Former Navy team lives new entrepreneurial dream

Healthy & Fresco of Hillsborough County

Healthy & Fresco of Hillsborough CountyWhen Israel Martinez and his friend Pablo Rosado retired from the Navy after 45 years of service between them, they had one dream they still wanted to pursue – to open up a restaurant.

With little more than a dream and a concept to focus on the health food craze, they turned to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for guidance.

“First of all, the first thing for any business is to create a business plan,” Martinez said. “We needed a business plan and we went to SBDC for help. Bill [Burnham] sat down with us and we talked about everything we wanted to do. It took five months because he was very meticulous about it. At the end of the day, we knew everything about our plan so we’re glad we did it that way.”

While they were in the planning stages, Burnham, a business consultant at the Florida SBDC at USF, encouraged Martinez to attend culinary school and to work in the industry to gain experience.

After culinary school, the idea snowballed into success. “After the business plan was completed, we started making the move to find the place and working with the bank,” Martinez said.

“We were glad to get an SBA loan. That’s what made it happen. We were able to find a restaurant. Now we’ve been open for about two and a half months.”

Today, Healthy & Fresco is a healthy alternative to the multitude of fast food options currently on the market. They offer options to build your own sandwiches, bowls, wraps and smoothies.

With Burnham’s help, they were able to secure a loan, find a location, purchase equipment, hire personnel and even wrote hiring and personnel guidelines and manuals. Healthy & Fresco currently has three full-time and 11 part-time employees on staff.

“This is just the beginning,” Martinez said. “We will definitely need more guidance as we go. I’m so glad that the SBDC is there to support us. The race just started, we are glad that they’re there to support us. We’re ready for the challenge.”