By: Crystal Cervantes
Dreams, adversities, courage, dedication, success.
This is what comes to mind when thinking of small businesses during a crisis. COVID-19 puts small business owners under great struggles in their efforts to run their business under unimaginable circumstances.
The Moreno family opened their first restaurant after Adan Moreno, the owner, had years of experience in the industry. They decided to take their chances on creating a space they could call their own and letting their creativity run wild. Establishing their first restaurant came with many challenges but their perseverance was stronger than their obstacles.
After years of hard work, the Moreno family has established a successful family owned restaurant, Más Allá del Sol (5848 N Broadway), in Edgewater. Darcy Moreno, daughter of Adan Moreno, explains how her family works together and remains positive while running a business at a time when the world feels like it is upside down.
Crystal Cervantes: Given the current Covid-19 circumstances, what challenges is your family facing now at Más Allá del Sol?
Darcy Moreno: The toughest part was the beginning of COVID, just trying to adjust and not knowing what to expect next. It was like the world stops cold one day and you didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. My dad actually lost his brother who was a fellow restaurant owner in mid-April, he tested positive for COVID and was hospitalized about a week after the shutdown.
We were trying to run a business and be safe. At the same time, we had a close family member in a coma. It was heartbreaking and gave us a crazy paranoia. At the beginning of this there was such little information going around. We were disinfecting everything, we closed our doors, it just felt very weird not being able to greet our customers and have that contact that we used to have. Here we treat all of our customers like family, so it feels so distant. Thankfully, at this point we’ve found our way and learned to adjust. I feel like we’re more prepared to what winter will bring, which we’re hoping will be a lot of carryout business. We at least try to stay positive because if we’ve made it through the beginning of COVID we will hopefully make it through the end.
Cervantes: You definitely will. I’ve been at your restaurant before and the treatment you all give your customers is amazing. I am so sorry for your loss, that definitely has to be tough especially during these difficult times.
Moreno: Aw thank you. Yeah, it was especially tough at the beginning. Business got slow, some nights we would sit in here and only get a handful of orders. Things picked up come May, June, July but we didn’t know what the following months would bring. It was a day by day scenario and I feel like what kept us going is that we never gave up.
Cervantes: I completely agree with you, definitely remaining positive is one of the key aspects of getting through all of this.
Moreno: I hope I’m not being too positive (laughter).
Cervantes: Not at all, I feel like especially now, we get enough of the negative. It’s just so nice to hear how positive you all are remaining, and I think that’s super important as individuals and as a business.
Moreno: Well, I just see my dad. A week or two ago it got ridiculously slow. My dad started talking about how we would have to cut off staff and prepare for the worst, and I told him no. We can’t give up just because of one week. I guess its nerve wrecking for him when he sees product not moving as much as it usually does, but we have such an incredible community here and everyone has been so supportive during COVID.
Cervantes: I’m sure with the positivity and support you all will get through this. You mentioned your father, it’s evident that he is extremely passionate and involved in the restaurant. How has he handled these changes that the restaurant has been forced to go through?
Moreno: He’s very worried…he spends all of his time in the kitchen. Now, I feel like he’s starting to feel more positive even though he tends to get negative. But he tries to be as involved as possible and making sure he does what’s best for the business and our customers.
Cervantes: I can only imagine how difficult it must be for him to see his restaurant go through all of this. Many of us wish we didn’t have to live through these difficult times. As a family owned business, what is the most important thing this pandemic has taught you all?
Moreno: That together we can get through anything. We’ve all pitched in in whatever way we can. Whether it be delivering carry out orders ourselves, we’ve all figured out a way to work together to make this work. Thanks to this business and our customers we all have food on our table so it’s important for us to keep this business running.
Cervantes: I can only imagine how important this restaurant is to your family. Más Allá del Sol has amazing reviews on various platforms, was rated under Chicago’s top 5 Mexican restaurants, and was featured on Chicago’s Best. With this great success, what are your hopes for the restaurant moving forward and hopefully in a post-COVID world?
Moreno: We’re hoping we can continue to grow. Our past restaurant was very successful. We’re hoping to get different people in. Sometimes we have customers coming here from suburbs over an hour away and that’s such a proud moment to know people are driving that much just to get here.
To learn more about Más Allá del Sol, visit www.masalladelsolrestaurant.com/home.
*Interview has been edited for length.