Behind a restaurant that has become a Tyler’s staple, a woman who has taken on many challenges leads success in her growing Mexican restaurant empire. From humble beginnings and only $ 21 in her pocket, Ruby Abarca, mother, wife and business owner, has used her growing restaurant as a tool to give back to her community, starting with her own staff.
Before the second location of Mexican restaurant Ruby’s closed due to a fire that caused significant damage in March, Abarca knew she wanted a second location that could be a safe space for her restaurant workers.
The female-run restaurant was inspired by every woman who had experienced sexual harassment while working in small restaurants. In their experiences, working in small kitchens often meant unwelcome trial and error and sometimes inappropriate physical contact with other staff. Abarca wanted his women to feel safe.
âI said, ‘In this kitchen I’m not going to have a single man because I don’t want that. It’s uncomfortable. As a woman, you work because it is a necessity, it is not a need. Sometimes we put up with it for the same reason, âshe said.
Many of these women who worked at Ruby’s second site held two jobs, but others were entirely dependent on Abarca’s business to support their families. She remembers a member of her staff at the time fleeing a relationship where she had been the victim of domestic violence.
âI always said to him, ‘Why don’t you report this to the police?’ but it scares us. The word ‘police’ scares us because it indicates workaround, processes, and sometimes in the end nothing happens, âAbarca said.
Abarca helped the single mom who escaped to Texas by not only employing her, but also taking her to do her taxes and helping her with other things she needed to be successful here.
In other cases, staff have said they need help with the rent. Through these times, Abarca has been there to help them, refusing to take it off their paychecks.
âI never had this opportunity. I slept on a rug for six months, I didn’t even have a mattress. My parents have always been there for me in everything, I swear, so I tell them I want to make things a little easier (for the staff). I don’t want to be a millionaire and explode. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them how much I’m paying. I like to give them overtime, âshe said.
Abarca’s inspiration for helping those around her comes from friends who still believe in her. She said she hadn’t forgotten when ESL teacher Paulina Pedroza encouraged her to open a restaurant while she cooked and sold food at her home.
She started with just $ 21. She perfected her specialty flan and eventually became a menu she served at home.
At the time, Abarca said she was working 60 hours a week at her day job and that Friday would be her only day off. During this time, she cooked and sold food from home. She said it had always been that way since she remembered it. She was finally able to open her restaurant last year in August.
âIt’s not difficult to work. The whole world is working. The hard part is saving money. It’s my inspiration to be able to say, ‘I can. It’s for a little while, but I know it will pay off, âAbarca said.
Abarca has managed to buy her own house and get her finances in order. Learning how to do this has been a struggle as her native language is Spanish, but members of the Hispanic community have helped her along the way, such as Spanish speaking bank tellers and real estate agents.
With their help, Abarca passes on information to its staff, such as how to apply for credit cards to start building credit, get state ID, submit homeownership applications, and find out how it works. current accounts and which one suits them best.
She said she told them if she was okay they would be ok too.
As she helps her Hispanic staff encourage them to make smart financial decisions, while also running a business in the field and in the kitchen, Abarca said no one knew the sacrifices she made to run Ruby’s.
âSince I opened the restaurant, I haven’t had dinner with my family at our dining room table,â she said.
Her daughter is 18 years old, her son 15 years old and her youngest daughter 6 years old. The two teenagers from Abarca attend ISD Chapel Hill and play in the school orchestra. Her 18-year-old daughter is in college credit and would like to study medicine. Her teenagers help run the restaurant when they can, mostly on weekends.
Regardless of how difficult it is to manage business time with family time, Abarca said she always makes sure to attend her children’s group recitals and always sets a limit to make sure. that she leaves the restaurant at 3 p.m. to pick up her daughter from school.
One of the biggest challenges in running her restaurant is not having enough family time to focus on her restaurant, which she treats like a baby.
“I have to take care of him, I have to feed him like a baby because if I don’t he will get hurt or he will die,” she said.
Recently, Abarca was able to sell at the East Texas State Fair. This was a major achievement for her, as it is known that it is difficult to get a seller’s place. When she convinced herself to go to the office to request a seat, to her surprise, they were already working on contacting her to ask her restaurant to sell food at the fair.
Abarca said this was the time she was working hard to build her food empire, now with a second location soon on Broadway Ave, she hopes to relax and enjoy the fruits of her labor later in life with her family and friends. children.