Client Success Story: El Patron

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El Patron Subs and Grill Grows to Full-Time Establishment

Just a few short years ago, Doris Pacheco and her husband, Jose Zelaya, were working part-time on the weekends, selling concession food at Smiley’s flea market in Fletcher, North Carolina.

Now, in 2021, they enter into their fifth year of successful, full-time business in a brick-and-mortar location in Arden. The motivated and passionate husband and wife team has worked the long, challenging journey alongside support from Mountain BizWorks to transform their weekend hobby into fulfillment of a lifelong dream and financial independence.

Behind the Business

Like most businesses, El Patron started small. In 2014, Doris and Jose Zelaya worked regular, full-time jobs during the week. But, they wanted more stability, independence, and a better life for their family. In hopes of achieving all three of these things they took up a plot in the food concession area at Smiley’s flea market in Fletcher, NC. 

It was small but perfect. The couple sold tacos and subs every Saturday and Sunday to the hundreds of hungry shoppers parading the market. 

As with any business, there were challenges. But the dynamic of the family business and the desire to achieve their dream kept the concept in motion and growing. They learned the ins-and-outs of owning a business and saving money along the way. After three years of working seven days a week, they knew it was time for the business to grow.

The Growth of El Patron Subs and Grill

In 2017, Doris and Jose decided they were ready to transition El Patron out of the flea market and into their own brick-and-mortar location. They found the perfect spot on Hendersonville Road, just a mere five miles from the flea market. They wanted to keep the restaurant close to its roots and had developed a connection to the area. 

This connection and the local community is important to Doris and Jose in how they want to run their business. Expanding from the duo, the team now includes nine other employees.

The diverse menu may be small but features a variety that embraces different cultures, from tacos to burgers, subs to kid’s chicken nuggets. It’s a family-owned business that appreciates the different tastes of family members, making it a perfect quick-stop spot. Five years later, they continue to see growing success with their restaurant.

The Journey to Entrepreneurship 

Moving the business from a small weekend food concession stand into a full-time restaurant business was no small feat. But, it was made manageable with the support and backing from Mountain BizWorks. 

Like many others, capital tends to be the most challenging area for business-owners. Finding the capital and the right investors to not only envision the dream but to support it and make it possible is a huge hurdle for many. 

Mountain BizWorks’ support was monumental for the couple’s journey. With Mountain BizWorks, they were able to take classes to help learn about starting and growing the business; they learned how to utilize QuickBooks to organize their finances, and they gained resources to employ successful marketing strategies. 

Doris attributes much of their journey to working alongside Mountain BizWorks: “The help and support with filing documentation, figuring out how to create the LLC, and being able to use the different scholarships…We are so thankful for all [Mountain BizWorks] help in every step.”


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