Opening any business is never easy. But try opening a restaurant business as a non-native-English-speaking woman on the tail end of the COVID pandemic. Silvia Hernandez, a Mexico City native, did just that. In mid-June, with the help of Michael Graham, founder of Lost City, Hernandez led the opening of Lost City's third location inside Avanti at 1401 Pearl Street in Boulder. "I am really excited to do this," Hernandez says. "Lost City is like my baby, and I want to see it growing and walking."
In 2013, Hernandez left Puerto Vallarta with her two children. She didn't know anyone in Colorado when she moved her family to Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood to begin a new life, but being on her own didn't stop her from building a new community that revolved around food and family.
In 2015, Hernandez connected with Focus Points Resource Center, where she began cooking and taking micro-business courses. She developed greater business skills along with knowledge of the food and beverage industry. With her new skills and passion for the cuisine from her home in Mexico, Hernandez decided to open her own business. In 2016, she launched La Catrina Grill catering, offering Mexican-inspired food for private events. Around the same time, Hernandez worked on a team with Focus Points Resource Center to build Comal Heritage Food Incubator, a lunch restaurant and training program for refugee women in Denver's Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.
Hernandez herself graduated from Comal's program in May 2021. "Comal is a part of me," she says. "We had the opportunity to choose the name, the food and every detail of Comal's opening. I learned so much."
When the pandemic hit, Hernandez saw an opportunity to help others by working at Denver Food Rescue and serving food from La Catrina Grill to Denver Public School families. In early 2020, while working at Denver Food and Rescue, Hernandez met Graham, who offered her the lead chef position at Lost City's new location.
With the freedom to build her menu, sharing recipes from Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and Comal, Hernandez could not resist the offer. "Always say yes to everything," she advises. "Always try something new." Since Lost City's opening at Avanti in Boulder on June 18, Hernandez has continued to learn from Graham and applies every lesson to her business — the good, the bad, the hard and the delicious.
Hernandez's menu blends her life experiences into her favorite dishes, reflecting her family, culture and Colorado communities. Her cafe features homemade breakfast items such as breakfast burritos and empanadas. The location also carries Little Man Ice Cream and, of course, coffee and tea beverages.
As a mom, every decision Hernandez makes is based in the desire to inspire her kids to never give up on their dreams. And with a mom who built a new life for them from scratch, from moving to Colorado to becoming the leader of the Lost City team in Boulder, they've got one hell of a good example.
Lost City at Avanti Boulder is located at 1401 Pearl Street and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Lost City also has locations in RiNo and Capitol Hill in Denver. For more information, visit lostcitydenver.com.
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