Javier Haro’s organization introduces tech tools to help entrepreneurs build their business.
Food Hero Comes To Rescue Of Chicago’s Hispanic Restaurateurs
As a superhero who arrives when one is most in need, Javier Haro has helped dozens of small Latino restaurants in Chicago grow in the “new normal” the COVID-19 pandemic produced.
Technology is his superpower.
“We are working with businesses in La Villita, Pilsen and some in Midway, trying to educate [owners about new devices and systems], and implementing technology services, including programs for online orders, tablets and social-media platforms, such as Facebook,” said the creator of FoodHe.ro.
Founded in 2014, Food He.ro is a consulting firm that offers advice on opening and growing a business in the food industry. It is also a gastronomy school. Haro calls it “a social organization.”
Haro said the health emergency was an awakening for many small businesses. It “opened their eyes” to the importance of introducing technology into their companies.
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Since the pandemic began, Food He.ro has worked with more than 50 small businesses in the community, especially restaurants.
“Several [entrepreneurs] have opened themselves to these systems,” he said, explaining the introduced changes were long overdue. But business owners “wanted to operate in the same way they had done for 10, 15 or 30 years. Now that the economy has changed, they are making these adjustments.”
Haro works with the nonprofit organization Little Village Community Foundation and the Economic Strategies Development Corporation, in Pilsen, which received grants for this purpose.
Using technology to grow
In addition to developing ordering platforms for restaurants, which became instrumental for the industry’s survival during the pandemic, Haro has been working on home-delivery options. Restaurants “can work with a third party, or use a platform, or they can add staff.”
With some businesses, he is implementing Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, a set of hardware and software tools that help run businesses, such as Square.
A POS system is, according to ecommerce-platforms.com, “an environment where you can handle a lot of the financial and administrative work of running your business.” Via these platforms, companies ensure they have enough inventory, control transactions and track sales trends.
“This is important because many businesses only accept cash. They do not have the system to accept credit cards. By not having it, you are affecting your business. We are gradually becoming a society that does not use cash,” said Haro.
He also highlighted the importance of being present on social-media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, to reach the buyer and registering in the Google directory to help potential customers find the business on the Internet and in Google Maps.
“Today, 40 or 50 percent of owners are open to these new technologies and use them. Another 25 percent cannot implement them for financial reasons. And another 25 percent don’t want to make the change yet. I believe it’s because they don’t have someone in their business who can take them by the hand,” said Haro, happy to help them through this evolution.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos; edited by Fern Siegel)