Cuna Del Sol Adds A Bakery
By Alejandro Lazo
Jose Tenas opened his Cuna Del Sol restaurant in a Manassas strip mall in the summer of 2005. A year later, the 45-year-old Guatemalan native began eyeing a space next door to him as the perfect location for a Guatemalan bakery, one that would serve up traditional treats such as bolovanes, which are meats baked within a flaky flour crust.
Those ambitions were realized earlier Friday as Tenas opened his Cuna Del Sol Bakery with his business partner, Norman Gonzalez, cutting a symbolic red ribbon in front of the new shop.
Finding financing for the bakery was not easy, Tenas said in an interview, as the economic slowdown stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis has hit Latino businesses in Prince William County hard. The ongoing crackdown against illegal immigrants in the county has also eroded the business climate for Latinos in the county, Tenas said.
Everyone arrested in Prince William County has their name run through a federal database to determine their citizenship status, even if the person is not suspected of being in the country illegally. Police can also question a suspect about their immigration status before an arrest if they suspect the person has provided fake identification or lacks proper identification.
"People are afraid -- whether they are undocumented or citizens," Tenas said speaking Spanish. "But, thanks be to God, things are getting a bit better."
"There was a time when things were really hard -- December, January and March -- but now things are picking up. The economy hurt us some, but it was really the laws that hurt us the most."
Tenas said few banks were eager to work with him as he sought to realize his dreams. Ultimately, it was Security One Bank of Baileys Crossroads that provided the $600,000 loan for the bakery last fall.
"We tried to do this with a lot of banks, but they turned us down," Tenas said. "Finally it was Security One Bank who gave us the loan, so now we are working hard to repay them."
Security One, which was founded in 2006 by some of the Washington area's most prominent Hispanic business leaders, itself has struggled to grow in the midst of the housing downturn. In March, the bank named a new chief executive, John Maxwell, who plans to widen the bank beyond its Latino base and rename it the John Marshall Bank, after the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who grew up in what is now Fauquier County. The bank plans to officially change the name next month during its annual shareholder meeting.
"This was one of the objectives when we opened the bank," William Soza, a member of the bank's board of directors, told reporters earlier today at the opening ceremony. "To assist those who had difficulty finding access to credit."
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