Sharing Popolo Stories: Santa Maria Valley Chamber

Santa Maria Valley Chamber

Sharing Popolo Stories: Santa Maria Valley Chamber

Popolo Catering wants to share a special story with you. We are proud to be a member of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. Last Friday, during the “Build Your Business” Breakfast chamber gathering, my dad, was given the chance to speak for to support other chamber members. If you know my dad, Leon, you know he loves to talk, so this was right up his alley. Let’s hear how it went.

**Having a Backup Plan**

My Dad, Leon talked about his experience as a small business owner and the need to think about what would happen to his business if he couldn’t run it. It’s not something you usually think about. Small business owners do it all – they manage, cook, wash dishes, and clean up at night. It’s hard work, and they put everything they have into it. One day, his friend and mentor Rick, CEO of Mind Body (at the time) asked, “What will happen to your business if something happens to you?” Leon didn’t have an answer. He put a plan in place. He hired trustworthy staff and created clear routines and procedures for the team to follow. With this plan, Leon and Kathleen, the owners of Popolo Catering, could take a break knowing their business would run smoothly.

Santa Maria Valley Chamber
Leon and Kathleen on a trip to Italy in 2019. Able to take a vacation knowing they had a team in place.

**Long-Term Help Needed**

What if you need help for more than just a vacation? For those who are unaware, my dad, Leon got seriously ill with COVID-19 in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. It was a scary time. He was so sick that he was in a coma for 41 days. During this tough period, his business, which he’d spent over a decade building, at the time, didn’t have a leader. Even when he got better, he still needed months of recovery. His message to the chamber members was about the importance of having positive people around your business, people who genuinely care. Although my dad was a strong leader, he couldn’t lead during this time. Because my brother Kenny was part of our family-owned business, the company kept going during this difficult time. Kenny was made the General Manager of Popolo Catering and continues to lead the business.

Santa Maria Valley Chamber
Chef Kenny, General Manager of Popolo Catering hard at work during the time of the Pandemic

**Teamwork Matters**

This year, because of the long-term effects of COVID-19 and other underlying health issues, my dad needed a kidney transplant. He was very tired and challenged and had to step away from the business again. My mom, Kathleen, his wife, gave him a kidney match and gave him her kidney. Did you even notice he was gone? The Popolo team continued to provide the same quality and service you know and love. It’s incredible to think that only four months ago, my dad was very sick. Now, he’s greatly improved, hopeful to be able to be fully immersed back on the Popolo team very soon. He can rest assured that my brother and the rest of us on the Popolo team have his back. So, to you small business owners. Who has your back?

Santa Maria Valley Chamber
Leon at UCLA medical center before his transplant.

**Reactions to Leon’s Speech**

The audience was touched by Leon’s speech. He made an excellent point for small business owners in the room – having a backup plan is essential. In Popolo’s case, having a plan, positive people in place, and procedures established, saved the day when my dad needed it.

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Written By:

Marissa Dominguez

Popolo Blogs and Social Media Coordinator

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