Customer Wise: Cooking up success with local flavors, pride

Michelle Di Gangi
Posted by Michelle Di Gangi
Small Business Banking

I know I speak for all of our business bankers when I say that we’re constantly inspired by — and in awe of — our small business clients. So much so, that we’ve started sharing on our blog what we hear from them in this ongoing series called “Customer Wise” — whether it’s advice, lessons learned, or an interesting market perspective.

Gabe Mendoza in his restaurant/bakery, The Shed.To mark National Small Business Week this year, we’ve asked five of Bank of the West’s business banking clients to share insights and tips for anyone starting a business now.

Today we shine the spotlight on Gabe Mendoza, owner of The Shed, a bakery and restaurant in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I love hearing about the passion and pride he has for his work. And that he still makes dinner at home after cooking at The Shed all day — who wouldn’t admire that?!

Q: Think back to when you started The Shed. What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

A: I wish I’d been told 1) have proper capitalization, and 2) how hard owning your own business is — and owning a restaurant in particular! I come from a construction background, so I had never worked in a restaurant before. I went into it very green. I wish I would have been able to work as a kid in the industry prior to getting involved. But I’ve been very successful at it.

Based on your experience starting and running a business, what advice would you give someone starting a business today?

Research the industry, be properly capitalized, know your product, iron out all the details in what you’re trying to do, and know what the goal is. If hamburgers are going to be your mainstay, then how do you make the best hamburgers? Or Southwest New Mexico cuisine — how do you be the best?

If you’re going to open up a business, make sure this is what you love to do. I tell my employees, “If you work here for me, you have to have some kind of joy or satisfaction out of it.” You have to want to go to work, and have that joy, have that sense of accomplishment.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business?

I’m proud that I was born and raised here, and I’m able to work as a locally owned business in Las Cruces. I use products from local farmers, such as our native chiles. Being able to buy direct from the farmers and use produce direct from farm to table — I’m very proud of that.

Would you do it again (why or why not)?

I would because I’ve learned to love the industry. I love cooking. I can do it all day and go home and cook dinner that night — for me it’s a joy. It’s that adage of “find something you’ll love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I would do it a little smarter next time, but I would definitely do it again.

You can learn more at The Shed’s website.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Gabe! Congratulations from way back. Kirk Bailey here, I used to own Auto Doctors on Madrid, just down from Apodaca Park. You may remember it as one of the garages the Hot-Rodders and Street Racers worked and hung out. I swear I remember you coming around the shop back then. Glad to hear things are going well for you. I’m sure the folks at Bank of the West are treating you right. Restaurant’s are a tough business, but I’m sure you’ll do well with their backing. Good Luck Amigo!

    Reply | 7 years ago

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