From homeless to owning two businesses
Tony Pena and co-owner Yair Tapia at MVT Marketplace at 2773 Webster Ave. Photo by Jason Cohen
BY JASON COHEN
Life has not been easy for Tony
Pena. She and her twin sister were
the product of a rape and at age 20 she
was homeless for a year.
But, like her mom, Pena is strong
and persevered. Today, Pena, 51, is
the co-owner of two businesses in her
home of Bedford Park and a third in
In March of 2020 she opened MVT
Marketplace at 2773 Webster Ave.
with Yair Tapia and at the end of February
will launch Temptations Deli,
a healthy eatery, a few blocks away.
“I feel like I hit the lotto,” Pena
said to the Bronx Times. “If she (her
mom) was alive she would be extremely
Pena’s mother, who was a ballet
dancer and singer in the Dominican
Republic, came to the USA at
35 by herself. Prior to meeting her
husband, John, she was sexually assaulted
and she gave birth to Helen
“Tony” and her twin sister Harriet.
Eventually, her other four kids immigrated
While they lived primarily in
Throggs Neck, they often moved out
of fear of her mom’s rapist. When
Pena was 15 her mom fi nally revealed
the truth about their dad.
“My mom she was a strong Spanish
woman,” Pena stated. “It made us
closer. My mom was a rock.”
In her teens the family owned a
pizzeria on Pelham Parkway. Pena
learned how to make pizza and loved
But at 20-years-old life took a sharp
turn. Her family decided to move to
Texas and offered she and her sister
a house in the Lone Star state or
a chance to run the pizza shop. Pena
declined both options.
“When my mom left I hit a rough
patch,” she recalled.
She was living with a girlfriend,
but things fell apart and she became
Leaning on welfare and her
grit, she landed a job at a pizzeria.
Through hard work, she was able
to rent rooms and eventually got an
apartment on Jackson Ave.
“I couldn’t live like that (homeless),”
She then did billing for a beeper
company and for six years ran her
brother’s temp agency in New Jersey.
Being in charge there made her
realize that one day she wanted her
After the agency closed she had
a couple of other jobs and in 2013
started a marketing company. Pena
does campaigns that help low-income
people qualify for a free phone. It
eventually expanded to Puerto Rico.
Her current venture, which began
just as the pandemic arrived, was not
planned at all. A grocery store suddenly
closed and she seized the opportunity.
She gutted and renovated the place
and now offers a variety of items,
ranging from cologne to gloves and
watches and rents out part of it to a
hair stylist and a tattoo artist and is
looking for more tenants.
“We’re not making a huge profi t,
but we’re not sinking,” she explained.
As Pena got older she noticed
that bodegas were everywhere in
the Bronx and it was diffi cult to access
quality healthy food. Not only
does this bother her, but she recently
found out she is borderline diabetic.
So, the mom of four wanted to set
an example for her kids and began to
search for a place to open up a healthy
deli. She found a spot between Oliver
and 199 and by the end of the month
will launch Temptations Deli with
two other people.
From living homeless to struggling
in the early part of her life, Pena
is ready to give back to her community
and is grateful for everything.
“How many bodegas do you see
have a salad bar or juice bar,” she remarked.
“I’m a person where I have
an idea and I don’t stop until I execute
FAMILY COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF THE BRONX
Docket # NN-09016-17/20
In the Matter of
THE DAVILA CHILDREN
A Child(ren) Under Eighteen Years Alleged to be Neglected by
NOTICE: PLACEMENT OF YOUR CHILD IN FOSTER CARE MAY RESULT IN YOUR LOSS OF YOUR
RIGHTS TO YOUR CHILD. IF YOUR CHILD STAYS IN FOSTER CARE FOR 15 OF THE MOST RECENT
22 MONTHS, THE AGENCY MAY BE REQUIRED BY LAW TO FILE A PETITION TO TERMINATE YOUR
PARENTAL RIGHTS AND TO COMMIT GUARDIANSHIP AND CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILD TO THE
AGENCY FOR THE PURPOSES OF ADOPTION. IN SOME CASES, THE AGENCY MAY FILE BEFORE
THE END OF THE 15-MONTH PERIOD. IF SEVERE OR REPEATED CHILD ABUSE IS PROVEN BY
CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE, THIS FINDING MAY CONSTITUTE THE BASIS TO TERMINATE
YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS AND TO COMMIT GUARDIANSHIP AND CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILD TO
THE AGENCY FOR THE PURPOSES OF ADOPTION.
TO: Julio Davila
94-26 34th Road
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
A petition under ARTICLE 10 of the FAMILY COURT ACT having been filed with this court alleging that the
above-named child(ren) is a neglected child(ren), a copy of said petition being annexed hereto:
YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED to CALL IN INSTRUCTION 1-833-262-7886, Conference ID: 786 622
481 VIRTUAL INTAKE PART, ON MARCH 8th, 2021 AT 11:00 AM, to answer the petition and to show
cause why said child(ren) should not be adjudicated to be a neglected child(ren) and why you should not be
dealt with in accordance with the provisions of ARTICLE 10 of the FAMILY COURT ACT and why an order
of support under Section 235 of the FAMILY COURT ACT should not be made if the final disposition is an
order of placement.
On your failure to appear as herein directed, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
FURTHER NOTICE: Family Court Act §154(c) provides that petitions brought pursuant to Articles 4,5,6,8
and 10 of the Family Court Act, in which an order of protection is sought or in which a violation of an order
of protection is alleged, may be served outside the State of New York upon a Respondent who is not a
resident or domiciliary of the State of New York. If no other grounds for obtaining personal jurisdiction over
the Respondent exist aside from the application of this provision, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over
the respondent is limited to the issue of the request for, or alleged violation of, the order of protection. Where
the Respondent has been served with this summons and petition and does not appear, the Family Court
may proceed to a hearing with respect to issuance or enforcement of the order of protection.
Dated: January 22, 2021
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, F 38 EB. 26-MAR. 4, 2021 BTR
THE CITY CLERK
OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
Pursuant to provisions of Section 25(b)(1) of the Charter of the City of New
NOTICE O OF SPECIAL ELECTION
York,York notice notice is is here
hereby given that a special election will be held in the
Borough of Bronx, County of Bronx, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021,
between the hours of 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM for the purpose of electing a
candidate for the 15th Councilmanic District. Only registered voters in this
district are eligible to vote.
For any information on whether you are eligible to vote or where your poll
site is located, please call (212) V-O-T-E-N-Y-C. TDD for the hearingimpaired
is (212) 487-5496.
The City Clerk of the City of New York