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Bringing Peruvian Culture to Toledo

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

To many Americans, when we think of Latin American food, we think Mexican cuisine. However, there are many more styles and flavors, unique to every region, that we’re missing out on.

William Del Rio and his wife Mirtha are helping address that with Chosica Peruvian Restaurant, a Toledo-based introduction to the food and culture of Peru.

“The reality is that Peruvian food is not commonplace here in the U.S. The ingredients and flavors are completely unique,” said Del Rio.

William Del Rio and his family left Peru in 2015 and moved to Toledo, Ohio. It wasn’t easy finding Peruvian food that reminded them of home, as the closest options were literally hours away. It inspired the Del Rios to start a Peruvian restaurant to share their culture with their new community.

“I ran several small businesses in Peru, so I had enough background knowledge to get the restaurant up and running initially,” said Del Rio.

as traditional avenues were unwilling to offer any help. Funding challenges, combined with a language barrier, led to Del Rio taking on loans with predatory interest rates. Chosica Restaurant opened in 2019, saddled with debt that quickly caught up with them. And just months later, the pandemic hit the U.S.

“It was a really frustrating time. We spent all this money on ingredients that ended up going bad because nobody could come into the store,” said Del Rio.

Over the next few months, their local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) tried to connect them with community partners who could lend a hand, but none of them could provide the restaurant with the amount of money needed to pay off the loans.

“We eventually had to break that lease and contract, which meant we lost everything we invested in that storefront,” said Del Rio. In October 2020, the old location shut down, just as their SBDC advisor Paula Avila-Palomares found the breakthrough they needed through ECDI, which stepped up and offered the capital the restaurant needed to keep going.

From there, the husband-wife duo looked for new locations, eventually settling on a new space right outside of the University of Toledo. Three months later, they reopened and got Chosica back on track.

“ECDI’s help was hugely important to keep us going and switch locations during COVID,” said Del Rio.

It also means less time worrying about finances and more time managing the new location. For the Del Rios, Chosica is a piece of home, and they hope to share it with as much of the community as possible.

“Finding traditional Latin American food, let alone Peruvian food, isn’t as easy as it should be. I want to spread the word,” said Del Rio.

ECDI is proud to support Chosica Peruvian Restaurant.

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