Empanada Baker Builds Business Despite Pandemic

Empanada Baker Builds Business Despite Pandemic

Venture Niagara provides support through Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan has helped to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency support to families and keep businesses afloat as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. A central part of this is the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which helps support those who may not be eligible for other programs.

Since May 2020, Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) have been delivering targeted RRRF support to businesses in their communities. With their local expertise and connections, southern Ontario CFDCs have been trusted partners of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to deliver this funding to support local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to stay afloat and maintain jobs.

In this time, Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation has provided more than $3.5 million in liquidity support to help 97 businesses impacted by the pandemic to cover costs and maintain 212 jobs. The funding is making a difference in the Niagara region by providing businesses the support they need to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic while finding ways to grow for the future.

Fiesta Empanada is a fledgling Niagara food business owned and operated by two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, Nelson and Jenny Flores. The couple bake empanadas and sweet pastries for a growing list of wholesale and retail customers.

Empanadas are a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling common to Southern European, Latin American and the Phillipines cultures. The Flores’ are extremely proud of their heritage and that clearly comes through in their Filipino Inspired, Baked Empanadas. They are made by folding dough over a filling, which may consist of meat, cheese, tomato, corn, or other ingredients, and then baking the resulting turnover.

Located on St. Paul Street, among an eclectic collection of shops, services and restaurants in downtown St. Catharines, the Flores’ have transitioned their business from a home-based effort to a trendy bricks and mortar shop where they make and sell a growing selection of products. They now have capacity to make their empanadas on site to sell wholesale to other restaurants and stores or they can sell direct to consumers from the vibrant storefront, as well as at local farmer’s markets.

With Regional Relief and Recovery Fund help from Venture Niagara, they received a loan that has helped them navigate the challenges of being a young business and at the same time to address the challenges of the pandemic.

Fiesta Empanada is now growing the wholesale side of the business and is better able to meet the demands of their direct-to-consumer offerings as people slowly return to the downtown area and pick up their baked empanadas as a quick snack, flavourful meal or to take home and share with family and friends.

Nelson and Jenny Flores both note that, “The pandemic is something we could not have anticipated in all the planning when we started our business. The financial help we received from Venture Niagara is greatly appreciated. The money we received through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund made it possible for us cover our operating expenses and even grow the business through a very challenging time.”