Written by The Business Journal Staff
Parsley Garden Café
What inspired you to open a café in downtown Fresno, Blanca?
That was my husband’s dream to start a business of our own. He was the one that always wanted to have a business and he was always looking for something. I wasn’t sure about it, but he was the one that envisioned this.
Why did you guys decide to open a café specifically, Blanca?
The Parsley Garden Café was already established here when we bought it. Although it was a little slow we didn’t want to change anything — we liked it the way it was already. We didn’t want to change the menu to Mexican food or any other type. We just liked what we saw and we just wanted to continue with it.
What makes your place unique from all the other cafés around here, Blanca?
I would have to say our food—it’s really good—and our prices. Being downtown, we can’t raise our prices too high. Also our service separates us.
Before you opened the café, did you guys have experience in the food service business, Blanca?
We never owned a restaurant before, but yes, my husband worked as a cook at a number of different places and a long time ago I used to be a waitress. So we have a lot of experience.
A lot of different restaurant owners have commented that it’s hard to find good help, in your opinion, what’s the most important aspect when looking for quality employees, Blanca?
A willingness to learn the way we want it. A lot of times they have their own way, so it is important for them to be willing to learn and be teachable. Also, reliability and flexibility are vital traits in looking for an employee. We’re not open all day, so sometimes we only need them for a couple hours. But our three sons are the main ones who help us.
What is the key to working with family, Blanca?
The key is to separate all things. If there is something I don’t like, I’ll wait until I get home and I’ll let my husband or kids know at home. We’ll talk about it and the next day it’s a little better. There are days that are stressful but we try to talk at home.
How did you guys decide to start a business during the recession, Blanca?
That was a crazy idea. I think my husband just had a dream and he didn’t even think about the recession. He just found the opportunity and went for it. I wasn’t sure, but he was the one that decided to have a business. It’s been hard at times.
So how did he convince you?
It took me a long time to be convinced, but he needed my support, so I supported him. I finally just said, “OK, what the heck. Let’s go for it.”
A lot of businesses go under during their first year of business. What has helped you guys to stay afloat?
It hasn’t been easy; it’s been very hard. There are days where I feel like just closing the doors and selling it. But we just want to continue and we have some really good customers that have been here since we opened. Between them, our food and our prices —those are the three key reasons we’re still here.
What was your first job growing up and what did you learn from it, Blanca?
My first job was being a waitress here in Fresno. I learned how you treat clients is very important, so they come back. If you don’t treat them well, they’re never coming back again.