La TropiKitchen, a Brooklyn-based food business inspired by Stephanie Bonnin’s passion for the gastronomic traditions of her home country Colombia, has been evolving since it started. Initially launched as a pop-up restaurant out of Mrs. Bonnin’s own home with intimate weekly dinners, COVID-19 saw its transformation into a pick-up spot for homemade Colombian arepas, enyucados, bollos, pasteles, and more for local Bushwick residents. Now, La TropiKitchen can be found all around New York, bringing the diverse and delicious food of Colombia to the masses via pop-ups and through Caldero Catering, which caters events of all types. For Mrs. Bonnin and her team, highlighting the variety of culinary traditions from throughout Colombia is not just about allowing people to experience the country’s many flavors but also to build understanding of cultural heritage and allow people to connect with one another.
Mrs. Bonnin recognizes the struggle small business owners – and particularly immigrant small business owners – face, and the need to do what you can with what you have available. She sought out Renaissance after attending an event hosted by Santander Bank in 2022. What attracted her to the organization was our focus on community development. She shared “When I went to Renaissance, the team was super excited to meet us and see us grow. The fact that your organization in targets small businesses like us, who seek to preserve our own cultures here in New York, is beautiful.” After working with a Business Counselor, La TropiKitchen was approved for a working capital loan in November 2022, which allows Mrs. Bonnin to cover up-front costs for pop-up events, where each dish’s recipe is developed from scratch.
People form the heart of Mrs. Bonnin’s business, and La TropiKitchen has a core team that is complemented by food industry professionals hailing from as wide a range of places as the tri-state area and Colombia itself. Mrs. Bonnin’s next challenge to tackle is to grow her business by opening a restaurant where she’ll be able to hire that core team full-time and provide the right infrastructure from which she can grow further. Longer-term, La TropiKitchen seeks to publish a cookbook and develop products like homemade sauces to sell. Mrs. Bonnin knows that her support system will keep her grounded as her business grows – and Renaissance is proud to be part of that support system.