El Coquito

Bridgeport, CT

For three decades, Eddie Reyes had served Puerto Rican food and tropical ices in Bridgeport’s East Side. His restaurant, El Coquito, succeeded, but he had only 1,700 square feet in which to work, with no parking space, so growth proved difficult. He was set on staying on East Main Street. Reyes sought funding to nearly double his space and construct a brand-new, 3,000-square-foot building on an adjacent empty lot. A C4C loan provided nearly half of the financing for the $800,000 project and the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic Development provided $400,000 in financing and support via its Small Business Express Program. Capital for Change’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP The Link) also provided marketing and design consultation to help El Coquito evolve its brand during this important phase in the growth of their business. Today, the line of patrons waiting to place their orders at lunchtime spills out onto East Main Street. A brightly lit dining room offers plenty of comfortable tables and booths. The El Coquito van is loaded up with new catering orders almost daily and stands near its newly paved lot. Eddie Reyes and his 18 employees, including five new hires, are thrilled to cook and serve from their spacious new kitchen. But most of all, they are proud that El Coquito brings folks from all over to the East Side neighborhood they love and that helped them grow.

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