9-13-17 | Partnerships
Carlos Bolaños Arana opened his restaurant AjúA! hand in hand with the help of his wife Rosángela Villalta Chamorro; together they embarked on an adventure that today has solid stance in the Nicaraguan market. AjúA is also of the restaurants the restaurants allied with Fabretto Foundation to support the “Pancitas Llenas” campaign; a campaign focused on fighting malnutrition in Nicaragua.
Tell us about how the idea of Ajúa started off in Nicaragua and the concept of the restaurant.
Carlos Bolaños: The story of AjuA! began in 2007. I was in the process of graduating from my Architecture career, and that year I had planned out a trip to the United States. During my visit, a friend told me he would take me to a place that had great burritos. I accepted and we went. It was a very nice place and had incredible customer service. As they began to make my burrito, I noticed that the ingredients they were putting together were ingredients that we consider local in Nicaragua. From that moment on I knew that one day I wanted to have a restaurant like that in Nicaragua. When I tried my burrito I was convinced. It was an unforgettable moment in my life, something very difficult to explain.
But it was not until 2013 that my idea came to life. We lived near the town of Diriamba and decided to start with this crazy idea opening at the closest city near us: Jinotepe. It was a very small place, barely had 5 tables. Even so, our dream was bigger than the small space. It was fun and very difficult at the same time.
On the opening day, we had to open a few hours after the set time because we did not have time to cook at dawn. I remember Rosa was almost in tears that morning telling me that this was crazy. I told her to get some rest and cook in the morning, and open a little later than we had announced. The experience of having a business like this was something we loved. I could not believe something I had planned since 20017 was actually happening. It was a dream come true, no matter how small.
What kind of menu do you offer?
Carlos Bolaños: Our burritos are our specialty, but I would say we have made all of our dishes our specialties too. We offer a variety of dishes in our menu. We have main ingredients that we use for most of our menu, that way our inventory is constantly being used and stocked. Our daily goal is to maintain our quality and I can say we have been able to maintain it.
How does the alliance initiative with Fabretto begin? What is the alliance about?
Carlos Bolaños: The spark the idea were out clients. Our customers have always asked us for desserts. And we always told him that one day we would have one.
My grandmother is from Missouri; we call her La Mimi. My grandparents met there when my grandfather went to study in St. Louis. He was staying in the same house where my grandmother lived. My grandmother’s family rented rooms out for students from that university. My grandmother always tells me that my grandfather fell in love with her for a famous pie she always made, a banana pie. I remember that banana pie as far back as I can remember, eating it at my grandmothers’ house here in Nicaragua and amazed that it was not a common dessert here. It’s delicious!
One day we received an email from the Fabretto Foundation inviting us to be part of the Pancitas Llenas campaign to help children fight malnutrition in the most rural areas of the country. I was moved by the email and I decided to help out. I shared the email with Rosa, and that’s when I put 2 and 2 together. Add a dessert in my menu and also help out. I just thought about Mimi’s banana pie. Without ever having made one myself, I responded the email with a 100% yes.
To date, I have baked almost 20 pies. The great thing about the experience is, every time I am baking a pie, I am taken back to my childhood watching Mimi back her banana pie.
Where can you find your restaurants?
Carlos Bolaños: We have two restaurants. The first one we opened you can find in Crystal Building in Las Colinas, (where the Pancitas Llenas campaign is active). The second is located on Kilometer 8.5 Carretera Sur, in La Liga Plaza.
What are your future plans AjúA?
Carlos Bolaños: The dream of every new business is to be able to consolidate in the market and grow. Our dream does not differ much from that, but the most important thing for us is to do it best way that we can. We do not want to grow just to grow. We would always like to help in anyway, like we have with Fabretto’s campaign. We love giving back to our community, and consider it a way to say “Thank you” to our incredible customers.
Interview by Raquel López. Original text by Scarleth Lumbi, available in REVISTA SER, August, 2017, page 40.
Watch this video to learn more about the 2017 Pancitas Llenas Campaign: