BY JASON COHEN
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on small businesses
citywide. However, a recent study showed
Hispanic-owned businesses in the Bronx were
hurting well before the pandemic began.
In September 2020, the Center for an Urban Future
released a report that revealed that the Bronx
experienced a 23% decline in Hispanic-owned
businesses from 2012-2017.
To address these challenges, PepsiCo launched
Juntos Crecemos on Aug. 31, a $50 million platform
aimed at strengthening Hispanic-owned
businesses, specifi cally restaurants, bodegas and
carnicerías (meat markets), addressing foundational
business challenges and supporting business
growth over the next fi ve years.
“The contributions of Hispanic communities
are an integral part of the fabric of American culture,”
said C.D. Glin, vice president, The PepsiCo
Foundation and Global Head of Philanthropy, PepsiCo.
“Unfortunately, the community has also long
faced systemic barriers to success – a divide only
deepened by the impact of COVID-19.”
Small business owners participating in Juntos
Crecemos will have access to the Hispanic Digital
& Delivery Program, a customized eight-week consultation
curriculum tailored to meet their specifi
c needs, including helping them improve their
online presence, delivery logistics, online ordering
and marketing practices. Participants will
also be provided with consultation from experts
via offi ce hours, where they will receive coaching
and guidance on devising solutions for business
Among the businesses who received help from
PepsiCo was Claudy’s Kitchen, 5981 Broadway, a
Peruvian restaurant in Riverdale that specializes
in empanadas and fl an. Owned by Richard and
Claudia Berroa, the couple dreamt of bringing Peruvian
food to Riverdale, a neighborhood they’ve
called home since 2007. They signed a lease in
mid-2019, and after several setbacks, including
the onset of COVID-19, they were fi nally able to
open in June of 2020 — nine months after they had
The Berroa’s path to restaurant ownership did
not happen overnight, however.
Richard, 47, born and raised in Morrisania,
worked various jobs, including positions with
HBO Latino and the infamous Death Row Records.
receives fi nancial boost
In 2001, he was backpacking in Peru with a friend
when the Peruvian president halted travel out of
the country for a week.
During that time, he met Claudia Berroa, 49,
and it was love at fi rst sight. Six days later he proposed
to her. Knowing minimal English, Claudia
Berroa took a leap of faith and moved to America
with her soon-to-be husband.
As Richard Berroa worked during the day,
Claudia Berroa stayed at their Manhattan home
and learned English by watching “Iron Chef” on
TV. Growing up in Peru, where food is a big part
of the culture, Claudia Berroa was always in
the kitchen watching her father Guillermo and
grandma Anna cook. Soon, she began calling
home and asking them for recipes.
“I was raised by my grandma, and I remember
being next to her when she was cooking and the
BRONX TIMES R 32 EPORTER, OCT. 1-7, 2021 BTR
smells were amazing,” Claudia Berroa said.
After Berroas had kids, the couple relocated
from Manhattan to Riverdale in 2007. It was
around then when Claudia Berroa began making
fl an. The tasty dessert soon began to be a popular
item throughout the city. They catered parties,
sold it to various eateries, including the renowned
Zabar’s in Manhattan and sold it at street
fairs. Claudia Berroa was quietly making a name
According to Richard Berroa, people were raving
about the fl an, but they soon saw the need to
pivot to making different food.
“We noticed at the street fairs that people were
going to the savory stuff before they went to the
sweet stuff,” he said.
So Claudia Berroa reached out to her family in
Peru for empanadas recipes and soon the idea to
open a restaurant was borne. With the onset of the
pandemic in March 2020 and businesses shuttering
soon after, the Berroas’ made the courageous
choice to open Claudy’s Kitchen. But their fears
quickly evaporated as they sold out of food their
fi rst weekend. The delicious empanadas, rice, fl an
and other tasty Peruvian food had Riverdale buzzing.
Situated across from Van Cortlandt Park,
near Manhattan College and in front of a 1 train
subway station, they felt it was a prime location.
“We had no choice, it was sink or swim,” Richard
With the closest Peruvian competitor located in
the South Bronx, the couple knew they had a niche,
and if marketed right could be huge in the community.
With reviews from the New York Times and
a Michelin award, the restaurant slowly began to
More than a year after opening, Richard Berroa
said one of the challenges had been making
empanadas. However, with the recent $9,000 gift
from PepsiCo, they purchased a dough sheeter,
which allows Claudia Berroa and the staff to make
about 40-50 at a time.
“PepsiCo really helped us,” he said. “Before we
had to roll each empanada by hand.”
Richard Berroa told the Bronx Times he credits
their success to his wife’s cooking, their fair
prices and the fact that they are a local family
from the area. “Bottom line is the reason why
we’ve been able to survive and thrive is the food is
really good,” he said.
Chef and owner Claudia Berroa of Claudy’s Kitchen.
Photos courtesy Claudy’ s Kitchen