Las Piedras restaurant opens a new chapter with expansion
La Rotonda now offers seating for at least 110 diners. (Richard Gutiérrez/The San Juan Daily Star)
By RICHARD GUTIÉRREZ
Running a business is not easy, especially when you don’t have an established brand and people don’t know you yet. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of economic harm to island small businesses as many struggled to stay open, especially restaurants.
However, for a young woman in Las Piedras, Wildalís González, opening a business in the middle of a pandemic didn’t sound like crazy talk at all. In August 2020, González and her team started working hard and on March 31, 2021 La Rotonda Bar & Rest (The Roundabout) opened its doors to the public. Last Friday, the business opened its expansion room.
“Even though we’ve always been a restaurant, we were rather small, but thanks to the acquisition of the empty space in the building we were able to open this new area, which I personally always dreamed of doing,” González said.
On Friday, the day of the expansion inauguration, Las Piedras Mayor Miguel “Micky” López Rivera presented the restaurant with an acknowledgment plaque with a drawing of the roundabout that is displayed in the front of the restaurant.
“I want to highlight the acknowledgement award because it basically showcases the roundabout; that is what gives us our name as a restaurant,” González noted.
González believes the expansion will be extremely beneficial to the restaurant as now there is seating for an additional 75 people, while in the original room there is seating for at least 35 diners.
“Last weekend was magnificent,” she said. “Many people visited the restaurant, new people; we get a lot of regulars, but this past weekend we had plenty of new people coming over to the restaurant, which is exactly what we want, to bring in new people.”
“Having two bars and an outdoor area in the restaurant where people can sit is a good advantage, and we want to highlight these details as much as possible,” González added.
Another interesting detail about the La Rotonda is that salsa classes will be offered in the restaurant every Wednesday at 6 p.m., starting Aug. 2. Prof. Adalberto Cruz will be teaching the courses.
“We really want to encourage our Puerto Rican spirit and bring people a space where they can distract themselves and learn to dance salsa as well,” González said.
González believes that now, thanks to their growth and the hard work she and her team have put into making the restaurant a success, they are reaping the fruits of their labor.
“Having a business is really difficult, staying competitive is very difficult, but it is very much possible,” she said. “You have to have a lot of guts and organize yourself as much as you can. I encourage anyone who wants to own a business to just go for it, and work toward it, because it really is possible to achieve your dreams.”