UNAFFORDABLE UTAH

Mother-son business duo share restaurant’s financial struggles on social media

Dec 21, 2023, 6:52 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2023, 6:33 am

MIDVALE — A mother and son duo who co-own a Chilean restaurant are asking for the community’s help as money struggles may force them to close.

Noemi Bustamante and her son Anthony Vega started with personal empanada sales. Then they expanded into a food trunk, and last year, they opened Noemi’s Cafe in Midvale.

“Our very first (food truck) opening was at Pride,” Vega said. “We hustled, we worked hard, we saved Everything’s made from scratch. These are recipes that we have created that have come from generations before.”

Noemi Bustamante, preparing some empanadas.

Noemi Bustamante, preparing some empanadas. (KSL TV, Shelby Lofton)

The family’s brick-and-mortar café has been open for just over a year, but their dreams might be closing down. Vega says inflation is weighing them down.

“The inflation’s so high that a lot of small businesses, it’s hard for us to eat that cost,” he said. “I feel like sometimes customers forget that we eat that cost more than a big corporation does.”

His mother calls the café her dream final act.

“That’s what makes us really proud, to show our culture and our family history in our flavors, and we really want to show that to the community,” Vega said.

Before giving up, they decided to be vulnerable about their position. They asked for help on social media.

“When I did the post, I wasn’t really thinking, ‘OK, people are going to reach out,’ Vega said. “And I explained, the truth is, we hit a financial wall, we don’t know what to do.”


He says it’s not about making money but having people enjoy their food.

“I had a couple of people ask me, ‘Well, why don’t you try a GoFundMe?'” Vega said. “I’m not asking, ‘Give me a free handout,’ I’m asking, ‘Come and talk about this.'”

They said their small business struggles are similar to what a lot of owners go through.

“We don’t want to give up on our dream and our family’s dream either. My grandmother’s, my mother’s recipes are here,” Vega said.

Since posting online, they’ve seen more interest and support. They hope it’s enough to stay open through the New Year.

“Try to live your dream, and if we fail, guess what, we fail trying,” Vega said. “It’s still a struggle, we still got to keep pushing.”

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Mother-son business duo share restaurant’s financial struggles on social media