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Gisselle Poveda had to be creative when trying to find different ways to showcase her cafe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Google.maps.
Giselle Poveda had to be creative when trying to find different ways to showcase her cafe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Google.maps.

How Cafe Tinto in Hunting Park became a household name amid COVID-19

A pandemic hasn’t stopped owner Giselle Poveda from wanting to create her own coffee brand.

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Baking was always a priority in Giselle Poveda’s family.

“When my family came from Colombia in 2001, my father, like any other immigrant, came here and just started sharing his talents and what he knew, and so he got a job as a baker,” Povado said.

In 2003, her father opened up the family business to showcase all of the baked goods that Cali, Colombia is known for.

“Our coffee shop was originally called, ‘Delicias Criollas Colombianas Bakery,’ but I wanted to change it to something that would represent us in a better way,” she said.

Poveda took over the family business in 2016 when her mother retired.

“My mother was tired, this is a pretty difficult job, so I decided to grow up and take care of the family business, this made me very happy,” she said.

Her goal was to create something that exemplifies her Colombian culture and because her father started it, she knows that showcasing simple Colombian baked goods was the key to success.

“My vision for it was to represent Colombia, through what I think [are] the three pillars of Colombia, which is coffee, food, and service,” said Poveda.

That vision got blurry when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as Poveda and her family were left with few options at first.

“This has been quite a hard year for us,” she said. “When we first closed back in March, it definitely caught us by surprise.”

Deciding what the cafe’s future holds, Poveda decided to be creative when it came to how she can interact with her customers.

“We came up with a few ideas, we closed for a week, and during this week we were gathering ideas on how we were going to make our store safe for everybody,” she said. 

They installed their own pick-up window to avoid having customers come physically into the store. 

The pickup window worked, but it was disconnected from the process that captures customers when they visit. 

Poveda wanted them to visually see the homemade pastries that her cousin, who is the head baker, makes daily.

“Although we have a very nice customer base, people need to see our food to try it, so that’s when I thought of making an online platform in which my customers can look at our menu and see what we have,” she said.

Beyond the business’ survival, Poveda also worried how her staff would pay their bills.

“As a leader, my job is to also make sure that everyone else has a job, I have to make sure that my team members are healthy,” she said.

Since then, Poveda has also expanded into food delivery.

She isn’t using delivery services either.

“When you use these delivery companies, you don’t know how your food is being delivered, or how long the driver is taking to deliver the food, I’m crazy about that, so I did not want to use their services,” Poveda explained.

Not only is her cafe saving money by not using delivery services, but she is also employing her family to make the deliveries.

“Also, when a restaurant uses these services, there is a limited distance of where they can go, we want to make sure that someone who was craving a pandebono from us and lived outside of the radius, I wanted to make sure that we can still deliver it to them,” Poveda said.

One thing that stands out from other coffee shops is that Cafe Tinto makes everything from scratch.

“We wake up at 5 in the morning and food prep everything,” she said.

Despite the hard year, Poveda isn’t stopping anytime soon. One of her other goals is to have her own coffee brand.

“That would be ideal for me,” she said.

Her one-of-a-kind bakery and cafe is most known for their Pandebonos (Colombian cheese bread), which Poveda described as “A bagel, but so much better.” 

They also sell a hefty dish called, Calentao (a dish with rice, beans, and chicharrones) and Buñuelos — fried dough fritters.

“You can definitely taste the love we put in our desserts,” she said.

To support small Latino-owned businesses like Poveda’s, be sure to check out Cafe Tinto’s menu.

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