NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – Luis Cortes started his career working at a minimum wage fast food restaurant chain.
Decades later, after a lot of hard work, this Mexican immigrant and DACA recipient realized his dream of owning his own home – now the proud owner of Café Vélo Rouge off Nolensville Pike.
He hopes to bring more diversity and awareness to Latino-owned businesses and hopes to put the Woodbine area on the Nashville map.
Cortes moved to the United States with his parents when he was seven. When he was only 17, his parents were sent back to Mexico and he had to make a living.
Cortes is now a “dreamer”. It’s an apt title for the man who never gave up, even after being told repeatedly that he would do nothing but work in construction or mow lawns.
“Why is it the ceiling?” Cortés asked. “I feel like we are here to do something bigger than ourselves.”
So he did.
He arrived in Nashville in 2009 and started working for Chipotle Mexican Grill as a dishwasher. After ten years of service, he obtained the title of Director of Operations, managing 26 sites and opening 48.
He recently met his wife, Cynthia, who is a math professor at Columbia State and who enjoys cooking in her spare time. They dreamed of pooling their skills and owning their own home, which eventually led to the purchase of Red Bicycle Coffee.
“This location [Red Bicycle] wasn’t even there when I moved to Nashville. It was filled with auto repair shops and tire stores, ”Cortes said.
As he grew as an entrepreneur with the help of several mentors, Nashville grew too.
“It’s on the map but not on the social map and that’s what’s showing up now with the construction of the Nashville football stadium. There are a lot of new things. So it all happens very quickly, and there aren’t a lot of local businesses that I think have established themselves in the community to support this growth, ”said Cynthia.
They both feel the Woodbine region has been left on the back burner and this is their opportunity to step up and put it on the map.
“I think my message is that people aren’t limited because they don’t have citizenship or they come from a different background. I think America is a land of opportunity. It doesn’t matter where you are from. If you think about it, this country opens doors for anyone who wants to go, ”Cortes said.
The couple are now focusing on community outreach within the Woodbine community, in hopes of making the area a better place to live.
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“A city like Nashville can inspire so much hunger and motivation for our community, and how entrepreneurs like us hope to make an impact on the inside,” Cortes said.