Family Restaurant Owner
Name of Organization: Mama Elena’s Restaurant
Born in New York City to Dominican parents who came to the United States around the age of 16, Abel Rodriguez was raised in northern New Jersey. His mother is a social worker for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and his father is an entrepreneur. He started off with small bodegas, and continued to grow as a business owner. He later owned various supermarkets, laundromats, and finally opened a family restaurant in 2008.
Abel graduated from Montclair State University in 2015 as a sociology major. He started working at the family restaurant in 2008 and by 2015 was officially running the family business. The family owned a traditional Dominican family style restaurant that catered to our community. The restaurant’s name is Mama Elena’s, after Abel’s grandmother.
For his first venture as being the official head of the company I opened a 2nd restaurant in Union city. This restaurant failed within the first six months. This was a big lesson learned for future endeavors.
When he closed the Union City location, he returned to our flagship with more energy and motivation to implement changes. I revamped the entire restaurant, from uniforms to construction. No rock was left unturned. From how our staff answered the phone to how they greeted all our customers — everything was fine tuned. He systemized the entire restaurant and took the lessons he learned from my recent failure and turned it into positive energy.
A few years later, in late 2017, Abel and his family opened a second restaurant location in Paterson, N.J.. This location was a success within three years of opening. He is currently working on third and fourth locations. Rather than a continuation of the Mama Elena franchise, one of these locations is a speakeasy fast casual restaurant, located in Garfield N.J. The fourth is a club/restaurant theme due to open in 2023 in Passaic N.J.