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A Moment with our EDTP Graduates - Angelica Bautista and Alfonso Bermeo

Posted on 6/29/2021 by Ray Lamboy in LAEDA News

Angelica Bautista and Alfonso Bermeo are the owners of two family-run pizzerias in South Jersey--Jacqueline’s Pizza & Pasta in Gloucester City, and most recently La Matta Pizza in Runnemede--where they serve up delicious pizza, pasta, and so much more.

They are also graduates of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP). We had a chance to sit down with Angelica Bautista and Alfonso Bermeo to ask about their experience with entrepreneurship and LAEDA's training program.

LAEDA: Entrepreneurship is a very challenging path to take with many different directions. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Alfonso: I think it is the better opportunities. At the beginning it's much harder, but afterwards it gives you better to control of your time.

Angelica: Also, we chose this because we wanted to make a better life than we would have had working for someone else. We wanted to make a change and we made it happen because we had the opportunity, but the first thing we had to do was save the money.

LAEDA: Why did you choose your industry?

Angelica: We had the opportunity to purchase the pizzeria he was working for, and he knew everything about the pizza business. I think the hardest part is administrating, because he knows how to do everything else. He does the work, and I administer the business.

Alfonso: I started working in this industry, at various restaurants where I learned the business. I’ve worked at pizzerias for 11 years, some in Pennsylvania and some here in New Jersey.

LAEDA: And you’re still able to eat pizza?

Alfonso: Yes, everyday!

LAEDA: Tell me about your experience while attending LAEDA’s Training Program. What has the major takeaways been from the program? Have you any AH-ha moments! How did the program help you?

Alfonso: I think the class helped me in especially in focusing on our customer service, they gave a lot of recommendations on how to improve customer service. We were able to complete a business plan, which was important because I would just show up to the restaurant and work, without realizing everything else we needed to do.

Angelica: For me it was the marketing, and the that certain colors work better for food business promotion, we learned about the psychology of marketing and have used that in our business.

LAEDA: Tell me about your journey on the road to business start-up. What happened some of the challenges, successes, and failures?

Alfonso: The journey was all about saving money, until there came a time when we couldn’t save any more. We were planning on using the money to buy a home, but we were also looking to start a business, so when the opportunity presented itself we decided to use the funds to buy the first pizzeria.

I think the hardest challenge was learning how to be the boss, because I had always worked for other people. One of the successes is that we were able to double, actually triple, our sales at Jacqueline’s Pizza & Pasta in our third year in business.

LAEDA: Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?

Alfonso: I think Jacqueline’s Pizza is going perfectly, our newest business is the one we need to focus on getting started now. There is less traffic here in Runnemede, and the pandemic of course.

LAEDA: Why did you decide to purchase a business during the pandemic?

Alfonso: It was a good deal, and this location has a lot of space which gives customers the option to BYOB, and will let us provide full-service and host events in the future.

Angelica: It was an investment; we saw the potential in this restaurant and knew we could make it another successful pizzeria.

LAEDA: Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?

Angelica: Be persistent, because you need to give your best today, tomorrow and every day. If you don’t already have money, you need to save money. So many people ask, how did you do this? They ask if we started with a lot of money, but we had to save. The first thing you need to do is save money, and know what you want to do.

Alfonso: For business owners that are looking for the first employee, the tip is: don't be their friend. It is hard to be the boss, because you have to set expectations and enforce them to keep the business running well.

Congratulations to Angelica Bautista and Alfonso Bermeo for completing EDTP and continuing to their journey of business ownership.

Visit Angelica and Alfonso at their newest pizzeria, La Matta Pizza located at 681 E Evesham Road in Runnemede (in the Acme shopping center). They recommend that you try the wings! You can also give their favorite pizzas a try; Alfonso prefers the traditional plain cheese pizza, while Angelica’s favorite is the primavera. Order online at https://www.lamattapizza.com/.

Also, be sure to stop by their first pizza location, Jacqueline’s Pizza and Pasta at 108 S Broadway in Gloucester City. Order online at https://www.jacquelinespizzapasta.com/.

The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) is a free, nine-week business skills training course offered in Camden, NJ in the Spring and Fall each year. Qualified entrepreneurs receive 72+ hours of training from industry professionals, business planning, and continued technical assistance. Apply online at www.LAEDA.com.