Meet Samantha Palomino of the family-owned Fruteria Disfrutalas, located at 3647 University Avenue. With a strong passion for serving the City Heights community, and experience overcoming setbacks, Disfrutalas is weathering the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing to provide healthy and delicious take-out options to the neighborhood seven days a week.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
My name is Samantha Palomino, and I was born and raised in San Diego. I currently attend SDSU as a pre-medical Public Health major. My family has owned Fruteria Disfrutalas for four years. Our business provides a wide variety of food, ranging from sundaes to green juices. We take pride in serving our community as a healthy alternative or a go-to dessert shop.
What do you find most rewarding about running your business?
The most rewarding result from our business is the ability to offer people of the community a healthy and safe work environment. It is also rewarding to see our happy customers come in and enjoy their favorite meals and drinks.
What challenges have you encountered in your business, and how have you overcome them?
After our second year in business, our shop suffered a disastrous fire which burned almost 80% of its interior. Because of this, we were forced to close for almost a year. Luckily, our insurance company covered all our losses and we were able to remodel our shop without breaking our bank.
How has your business been managing over these past several months? Have you made any changes to your business as a result of COVID-19?
Our sales took a huge dip after the implementation of the stay at home order. However, once summer began our sales slowly began to stabilize back to normal. We have also been short staffed lately because some of our employees are susceptible to COVID-19 so as a precaution, they decided to quarantine. We have changed many things in order to follow state guidelines. For example, we closed our dining room, limited the amount of people inside, added a plastic barrier between our employees and customers, and increased the amount of times we clean per day.
What advice or words of wisdom would you provide to aspiring City Heights business owners or managers?
- Don’t give up. A business is never easy to manage at first, but with time and effort, you can become a successful business owner.
- Learn how to manage and invest your money.
- Avoid taking out loans. At times it may seem like you’re barely scraping by, but it is better to have all your expenses paid than a pile of debt in the long run.
What do you love about City Heights? What do you envision for the future of the community?
We love the diversity and art City Heights has to offer. When we first bought Disfrutalas, there weren’t as many murals everywhere as there are now. We are happy to have taken part in “The Avenue” mural project. Martha, (the owner and my mother), chose the design for the cartoon conga line on the walls of the fruteria. We hope to continue serving City Heights with more menu options and a comfortable atmosphere once restrictions are lifted.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the community?
Please support local businesses. Many small businesses are currently facing a financial crisis. Even though the government has created the CARES Act, countless businesses were not able to receive the help they need. As a result, depending on the business, they may not be able to pay their employees, pay rent, or even pay monthly bills. You may not see it, but choosing a small business over a corporate business can make a huge difference.
Stop by Fruteria Disfrutalas at 3647 University Avenue, open daily, 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.