Tracie Merlo of Fontana, CA decided it was time to pursue her dream of opening her own restaurant. Family and friends always asked her to cook for their special occasions. With her son’s encouragement, Tracie left her nursing career of 13 years and enrolled in the culinary program at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire. She tried to launch her catering company by making and delivering hot lunches to local businesses, but it fell flat.
When she met Omar Castro, a business services associate with the Workforce Investment Board of San Bernardino County, he introduced her to the free business workshops and seminars that take place throughout the County. “Not only was I meeting potential clients but I was gaining valuable tools to set myself apart from the competition,” she said. With Omar’s guidance and encouragement, Tracie has put to work what she learned in the workshops on labor law, marketing and integrating small business tools into her company Memorable Catering.
Outcomes & Benefits
Since Tracie began attending the business workshops funded by the Workforce Investment Board of San Bernardino County, Tracie has grown her business to 30 clients and regularly hires three of her fellow culinary students to help with large events. She feels empowered that she’s taking the right steps towards her dream of owning and operating a restaurant and catering business. Tracie said that, “with the support of the workshops provided by the San Bernardino Workforce Investment Board, I’m now doing something I love.”