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Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News. 
Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News. 

Meet the six honorees of the inaugural AL DÍA Top Entrepreneurs event

These are some of the most successful entrepreneurial business leaders in the Philadelphia region, who will be honored at the inaugural AL DÍA Top…

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With entrepreneurship playing such a vital role in the vibrant, growing business community in Philadelphia, AL DÍA wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to highlight some of them.

That was the premise of the first annual AL DÍA Top Entrepreneurs event, where a handful of the most successful entrepreneurs in the region will be honored.

After receiving a total of 22 nominations of the region’s brightest entrepreneurial minds from the public, the esteemed advisory board for the event was tasked with selecting six as the inaugural class of AL DÍA Top Entrepreneurs.

These entrepreneurs are the business leaders who are building and sustaining successful, dynamic businesses across the region. 

These are the 2021 AL DÍA Top Entrepreneurs:

Mike Diaz - Semper Utilities 

Mike Diaz is the Founder and CEO of Semper Utilities, LLC, and is a results-driven visionary leader and entrepreneur with a passion for the Utilities Construction & Distribution industry. 

Diaz has over 30 years of experience in all phases of Distribution and Transmission Operations, with unique strengths in team building and exemplary leadership. He is an expert in analyzing and streamlining systems and operations to increase productivity, quality and efficiencies.

Diaz’s journey began early on with discipline and unwavering determination while serving in the United States Marine Corp. Quickly recognized as a leader, Diaz excelled in team building, overcoming obstacles, and winning. 

A minority and veteran-owned, small business owner, Diaz has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work in the community and industry and has been featured in numerous conventions and conferences throughout the United States.

Silvia Lucci - LUVH Foods

Silvia Lucci is an international entrepreneur whose passion and previous career experience in Sociology, Academia, and Environmentalism led her to action and leadership. She was born in Argentina, has a master’s degree in Social development, and moved to the United States in 1988. 

In 2016, after personal hardship, she founded LUHV FOOD LLC, based in Hatboro, PA., a company dedicated to producing 100% nutritional vegan foods. She recently opened a factory that expanded fifty times her capabilities, and is soon opening a new location in Philly, in addition to their first Vegan deli at The Reading Terminal.

In 2017, Lucci opened her first vegan bistro at Hatboro, PA, and LUHV FOOD won the “People’s Choice Award” for best foods from The Philadelphia Food and Farm Festival. In 2018, she opened the First vegan deli at The Reading Terminal and received $10,000 from the “Citizens Bank Small Business Community Champion Award.” In 2019, LUHV FOOD received “Best of Philly” for best vegan lunch, “Best burger” from The Philadelphia Vegan Society, and best NEW foods at Javits Center in New York City “1st World Plant-based.”

Lucci has owned “Cafe con Leche Restaurant” with her husband Daniel since 1997. Previously, she had a career in the YMCA for almost 10 years, going from Program director to Associate executive Director for the Roxborough YMCA. 

Throughout her career she led and volunteered in all different community programs.

She was acknowledged with the 2019 Minority Business Leader Award, the 2020 Business of the Year Award by Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and for the last four years, received accolades from several media outlets, including 2021 Expo’s best Food at the EXPO EAST Philadelphia. 

Lucci works tirelessly to mainstream veganism through teaching and volunteerism.

She likes to find time to spend with her four grown children, and enjoys traveling with her husband of 33 years. Her ultimate goal is to mainstream veganism throughout society, and thus make a change in the world by the way we eat.”

Cristina Martinez & Ben Miller - South Philly Barbacoa

Cristina Martinez is a Mexican-born chef who came to the United States in 2009. She was raised by barbacoa masters and has dedicated the better part of 40 years to mastering her singular tradition. 

Fleeing violence in Mexico, she came to live in the U.S. and worked as a dishwasher, prep cook and pastry chef, eventually losing her position due to her illegal status.

Martinez along with her husband, Ben Miller, began cooking barbacoa out of their apartment, before eventually moving to a food cart and now onto a brick-and-mortar, becoming activists for undocumented workers’ rights. 

She has been featured on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” and was twice a finalist for the James Beard Awards. However, the most important recognition is the families who travel to eat her barbacoa in the heart of South Philly every weekend. 

In addition to South Philly Barbacoa, Martinez owns and operates Casa Mexico, which focuses on guisados and family style dishes; and also the People’s Kitchen at El Compadre, which has served 100,000 free meals in the last year, and employs a rotating crew of chefs, students and volunteers from the community. 

Cecilia Torres - Casa Papel

Cecilia Torres is the founder and creative director at Casa Papel, a full service one-stop graphic design and specialty print studio that specializes in custom wedding invitations. Due to a personal experience she had, Torres decided there had to be a business that could handle the graphic design needs, paper and printing and all the other elements to truly create your own paper craft needs, but with high quality. 

Started over a decade ago, Casa Papel has grown from an idea to a brick and mortar studio in the heart of Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood.

Luis Torrado - Torrado Construction

Luis Torrado is a North Philadelphia native, who grew up in the Spring Garden neighborhood. He is the son of parents who made their way from Puerto Rico in the 1950s, and was raised on an unwavering work ethic and the American Dream.

That is what pushed Torrado to pursue contracting and build up the city and community that he is so deeply rooted in. That drive has allowed him to grow Torrado Construction from humble beginnings to the multi-disciplined contracting firm it is today.

Established in 1995, Torrado Construction is a home-grown, minority certified, commercial construction firm. Torrado specializes in general and subcontracting work, historic renovations and rehabilitations, concrete and masonry services, selective removal, maintenance and new construction contract services. He is also a licensed material supplier.

C. Frank Igwé - Moravia Health

C. Frank Igwé is the founder and president of Moravia Health, a full-service Medicare & Medicaid Home Health Agency, licensed by the State of Pennsylvania. Founded in 2012, it serves over 200 patients in the Philadelphia area, and over 1,500 across the State of Pennsylvania.

It is Igwé’s belief that healthcare is a basic human right, and he lives by the words “do well by doing good”.  He is committed to serving “the least of these,” by providing the highest quality of care possible to the elderly and/or disabled, who wish to maintain independence, dignity, and quality of life, by remaining in their homes.

These honorees are exemplars who are driving Philly's continuously growing business community. 

The 2021 AL DÍA Top Entrepreneurs event will take place Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 at The Pyramid Club of Philadelphia. To register for the event, click here.

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