Marina Escobar, General Manager
Marina Escobar is enjoying the success of one of the most popular Colombian restaurants in Queens.
What one factor is most important to success?
I would have to say [to be] happy. Everyone has monetary needs, but being able to enjoy every day when you get up and go to work, that’s real success. It’s something that I experience now.
What do you look for in an employee?
I definitely need a motivator. I need people who are wiling to work hard and don’t need a lot of handholding. Integrity is very important. Being loyal to the business, having the best interests of the business in mind. The hard working ones are difficult to see when you just meet them, but they’re so easy to catch at the first day. I look for people with self-motivation who can go out and try their best and can find ways to get there. It’s someone who’s satisfied with giving 50 percent-those are the people that drive me crazy.
What’s the best way to save money?
For me, we watch our cash flow every single day. Every day we know what we have; what’s going in, what’s going out. We do cost cutting in lots of ways, I own a restaurant, so we know beforehand if we need to order less of something one week or cut back on staff for a week. Shopping around for things like health insurance takes up so much time. That’s how I spend most of my days, but in the end you save a lot of money.
What’s the best way to spend money?
I think the best way, or one of the best ways, is definitely in improving the business, putting money back into the business. That way, people don’t think it’s falling apart, or think it looks like you don’t care about it. Listening to your customers is important.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
I would have to say vacationing with my children. I enjoy time with my family. Also, really simple things like sitting on my beautiful back porch sipping wine and having great conversation with someone intelligent.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I play with my children. I have a one-year-old. He gets up before I do and then we play.
How do you deal with stress?
When I know I’m in a real stressful situation, I have to spend time on my own de-stressing. Another way that I can alleviate it is by doing stuff at home. Cooking helps me get rid of stress, also reading.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
I think that one of most important lessons I’ve learned is to learn from others. To listen, to really listen and learn. Traveling has been also been a big part of my life, which I learned from my parents.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
I do a lot of talking with other people, people who are very much my allies and supporters. That helps, support from other people, discussing and talking about a situation, that sort of thing.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
The mixture, the melting pot of people. I like that my children have been around that. They don’t see different languages and different colors, just that everyone is the same. I grew up in the South. We were one of four Hispanic families in the state. In my school, there were three Hispanic families and that was very weird.
Escobar worked in TV journalism for 14 years before deciding she wanted to spend more time with her family. She took over the family restaurant, which has been in the same location for the past 20 years, four years ago. It’s noted for having some of the best Colombian food in the city. (Escobar claims she’s met people in Florida who have heard of the place.) Although it’s a high-stress job, she loves being in the family business, and being able to pick up her children from school every day.