We are once again watching a potential miracle happen in Muskegon. If you remember back to February, we paid a visit to a small take-out restaurant that was on the verge of closing after the owner Francisca passed away. We went for a couple of reasons. One, living in my own little "bubble" I was a little ashamed that I had never been to the place and then it was in danger of closing. I thought "what kind of neighbor am I for never having been there?" Two, a young family was still in their grieving process, but decided that there was far too much history and attachment to our area to just let it go. So, we went to give the grand re-opening a little nudge, then started going back because the food is really THAT GOOD.
This is how we got to know Navarro's and the Sierra family who now runs in. Marisela is the daughter of Francisca and her husband Felix decided that losing all the work her mom put in was too much so they went after it. It's been busier than ever before and in going after it, Marisela was not only able to leave her full time "day job" to set sail on running the family business, she was able to start exploring new ways to gain customers, reach and awareness about the small place on 8th right off Sherman in Muskegon. Growing up in the back of the restaurant while her family worked Marisela's attachment, and near detachment to the business are deep. A young family with two small kids. The risks of reopening during a pandemic. The risks of setting off without an assured paycheck. The faith it took to go all in. All were rewarded with a thankful community who have returned the blessing with a steady stream of business and the idea that losing this hidden gem in Muskegon is more than we can risk.
In her exploration for new ways to grow, and share what her family has been serving all of us here in town, Marisela found a group called Start Garden. Located in Downtown Grand Rapids, Start Garden began in 2012 with $15 million dollars to help "rapidly fund and accelerate experimentation, risk-taking and investment into very early stage startups. The “stairstep” approach is to invest $5,000 into ideas every week, $20,000 each month to further incubate some of those ideas, and up to $500,000 available to invest any single startup." It's been going strong ever since and has helped business people of every background, income level and age. Navarro's was chosen to be a part of an event at 20 Monroe Live on September 29th as one of 100 finalists in the Start Garden "Demo Day" event who submitted video proposals about how they would like to compete and how, if chosen the $20K would be used to further their business in their community and beyond. The really exciting thing? Navarro's is Muskegon's sole representative in this event. We've all gotta get behind them just like we did at the grand re-opening.
Marisela and I had a chance to go over some of the workings of the contest as well as a little catch up on how things are going at the legendary take out. Take a listen.
Here's the take away's. First eat at Navarro's. Small, local family business. In fact, look in a dictionary. Next to "family business" you'll see the Sierra family pictured. Next, learn more about Start Garden and attend the event on the 29th at 20 Monroe Live. We have all done so much to show the best side of Muskegon and we have all watched this family do amazing things in the wake of a devastating loss in the name of their mom and we're sure heaven has a peephole whereFrancisca is looking down and screaming "Go Mari!". We''ll do our very best to keep you up to date as the contest gets closer. In the meantime, belly on up for a burrito, some tamales or any of the family tradition, home cooked goodness at Navarro's in Muskegon! Click on the images below to learn more about Start Garden or to follow Navarro's on Facebook.