It’s good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Maspeth today! I’m referring to two young ladies who originally hail from Venezuela, Vanessa Ceballos and Suset Marin. They recently opened their wonderful Jacups Coffee Bistro at 52-17 69th Street in Maspeth. Vanessa is 29 and Suset is 24 years-old, respectively, and together their goal was to open a new kind of restaurant in Maspeth. And with great determination and patience they succeeded beyond their original expectations. Their bistro has become a popular eatery and although only open for a couple of months, it already has a loyal following. No one seems to leave Jacups Coffee Bistro unhappy or dissatisfied. In fact, the day I was there I witnessed a non-stop stream of people eager to try the fine Venezuelan cuisine with rarely a table to be had. It was so busy, in fact, that although I wanted to interview both owners, I was only able to interview Vanessa, as Suset was busy tending to her patrons.
I understand Vanessa, that you worked at Phillies Restaurant. What did you do there?
Yes, I worked at Phillies for a couple of years as a waitress, but I also helped-out as a cashier and with the shopping list, at times. I also would train new people. My time at Phillies was the best job ever. And I learned a lot.
How did you get the idea to open your own place?
Well, this is a neighborhood that has so many families and we’re family people so we knew that people needed a place like this, a place with something for everyone. So, it is a bakery, and we serve pastries, and it is also a coffee bar, and we also serve food. You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner with us. We didn’t find anything else like this in this area, so we decided to open our own place and offer something different.
How difficult was it to get started and get your business off the ground?
It was very hard because commercial rent in New York is crazy. Too high. But we were very lucky to find this place, especially in a residential neighborhood. And Suset’s parents helped us with the financing. My mother helped us with the construction and interior decoration by selecting the materials and everything, because my mother was an architect in Venezuela. And my mother also does all the baking.
What advice would you give someone starting their own business?
Don’t rush and be careful.
How long have you been open?
Two months. We opened December 16th.
How did the name for your bistro, JACUPS originate?
“J” is for Jacob, Suset’s nine month-old son who recently passed away, and “A” is for Alexandria, my three year-old daughter. And “Cups” of course, are used to drink coffee.
What are your responsibilities in running the bistro?
My part is selecting the menu and running the kitchen, although we both cook. Suset is responsible for the organizing and all the accounting.
How’s business so far?
Really good. We are very, very happy. We didn’t think it would be this busy so soon. And everybody has been so nice.
What’s offering at JACUPS is your personal favorite?
The carne merchada, our shredded beef dish. I also enjoy the croissants and the nutella cappuccino.
What is the most popular with your customers?
The Caracas Bowl, which is shredded beef with white rice, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. They love it.
What are your future plans and goals for your business?
My goal is to continue to make my customers happy so that they’ll want to come back again. I want them to feel that JACUPS is like their second home. And of course, I would like to eventually expand.
Who has been your greatest role model?
My mother. She has been my mother and father at the same time growing-up.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working at JACUPS?
To eat and to sample food. I like to go to new places and taste their food and get ideas for my bistro. I guess to could say I’m a real “foodie.”
Is there anything would like to say to your customers?
Yes. Thank you for all your business and support!
What do you think the biggest obstacle facing young people today and what would you like our elected officials do about it?
Trust. We need to be able to trust in our elected officials. They should try and find a way to make us trust them.
Do you think there are more opportunities for immigrants today than ten years ago?
I think you create your own opportunities like I did. But yes, there are more opportunities. Every day there is a new opportunity.