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Nuestra Comunidad: A taste of Puerto Rico in Mableton

A new restaurant is turning into a popular gathering spot for Puerto Ricans. It’s a mixture of authentic island flavors that taste just the way grandma made it.

Sabores Take Out Boutique Café opened two months ago in Mableton. It is the culmination of a life-long dream for owners Oscar Muñiz and Teresa Rodríguez, a couple with years of culinary experience.

Just as ingredients harmoniously blend together in Muñiz’s pots and pans, so too have his and Rodríguez’s talents come together, creating delicious and traditional concoctions.

“We’re constantly exchanging menu ideas. We always have an open communication about everything, and sometimes we disagree about things, but we always find a solution,” said Rodríguez, who focuses on the administrative side of the business.

Muñiz is a chef with over 18 years of experience who has worked in large restaurants, catering companies, and was the personal chef of former Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño.

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According to Muñiz, his first experience in the kitchen – and one that paved the way for his future career – was with his grandmother, Petra, who raised him after the death of his mother, when he was 11 years old.

“She taught me how to cook, by watching. I still remember how on Saturdays my friends would come over, and it wasn’t my grandma who was making breakfast, it was me. I made breakfast for the whole neighborhood. My house was always full of people because Miss Petra gathered everyone together, and that was the meeting place. And that’s where it all began,” explained Muñiz.

The restaurant, which also features dishes beyond the Boricua palate, has been well received by the community.

“People are happy with it, because the food is very authentic. I had a woman who must have been in her 70s, and one of the best compliments I’ve heard is: ‘this rice tastes like my grandma’s.’ Because nobody cooks like grandma,” said Muñiz.

For the couple, the restaurant represents a way to give back to their island. In fact, several of the establishment’s employees are Puerto Ricans who arrived after the devastation of Hurricane María.

Muñiz and Rodríguez say the road is not easy to own your own business, but is well worth the effort. The key, they say, is preparation.

Rodríguez, for example, participated in the ¡Avanzando Juntas! Latina Economic Empowerment Program, offered by the Latin American Association. The workshop, designed specifically for women, helped Rodríguez further define her entrepreneurial goals.

“With the LAA’s help we were able to make a business plan that led us to a more concrete idea of what it is we needed, what channels we need to take to make this happen, financing options,” explained Muñiz.

Rodríguez will even be a speaker at the upcoming Latina Empowerment Conference, an LAA event that will take place on March 31.

“You have to have perseverance, and your biggest weapon is positivity: keeping your mind focused and strong, because sometimes you stumble and you feel like you can’t go on, and you can beat yourself,” said Rodríguez.

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