Updated: Sep 9, 2022
The ribbon-cutting ceremony of Mesa Komal Café was held Monday morning, welcoming a new wave of small businesses to Belmont.
Representatives from Belmont, Sodexo, Conexión Américas and the Hispanic Student Association attended the event for a morning of food and celebration of the initiative, which introduces minority-owned restaurants to campus.
“At Belmont, we want to be catalysts in helping people thrive,” said Dr. Susan West, the university’s chief of staff.
In an email to students, West wrote that the location will “house entrepreneurs on rotation as they gain experience in operating their culinary ventures and will feature rotating menus as new businesses cycle through.”
The first business to operate out of Mesa Komal is Karla Ruiz’s Viva la Vida, which serves various salads, tacos and chips and dips.
“It’s not about one person. It’s a team,” said Ruiz. “That’s my way to show love: cooking for people. That’s how I show love.”
Belmont and Sodexo’s partnership with Conexión Américas is the first of its kind. It will serve as an incubator program, allowing business owners in minority groups a chance to grow in their expertise, jump-start a career and reach their full potential in the culinary industry.
“This partnership is a tangible example of our work to embrace hope and inclusive excellence as we seek opportunities to champion our neighbors and their entrepreneurial endeavors,” West said in the email.
HSA President Vianney Muniz and Vice President Sadie Escalona helped cut the ribbon and expressed excitement about the new initiative. Both hope it will bring a new-found appreciation of different cultures to campus.
“I never thought that I would see something like this on campus,” said Muniz. “I’m very excited and happy to see how this can bring a lot of minorities on campus together and have a safe space for us.”
Viva la Vida inside Mesa Komal will be open Sunday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
PHOTO: The ribbon cutting at Mesa Komal Cafe. Lily Owens/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Lily Owens