Immigrant entrepreneur lives his American dream in Summit County
Daniel Olivares and his family have worked hard to become business owners and proud community members
Brought to you by FirstBank
As a full-time student at Colorado Mountain College — the first generation in his family to go to college — Herson Daniel Olivares was running the ins and outs of his father’s Mexican restaurant in Silverthorne, participating in the honor society, and setting his sights on other entrepreneurship opportunities.
He picked up a Summit Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Award in 2018 at the age of 21 while managing the menus, live music, the alcohol license, payroll, administration, the finances and more at Fritangas Mexican Restaurant, but he was just getting started.
“Since the excellence award in 2018, I’ve grown as a person and as an entrepreneur,” he said. “I’ve been able to pay off my car loan, able to pay our mortgage in Summit Cove, and I’ve been able to get lines of credit through these techniques and decisions I’ve made.”
Courage and entrepreneurship
Last January, Daniel opened an ATM business and started working as an Arbonne 30 health and wellness consultant. He’s a partner at the restaurant now, and he’s also joined a group in Denver that shares best practices in business and real estate investing, where he picked up some new skills of his own.
“As of last month, I closed my first deal in Denver — it’s a fix and flip,” Olivares said. “I’m on path to my second deal in December, and I’m looking at buying my first rental property in the next six months.”
He got married in October and graduated from CMC with an associate’s degree in business administration last May, and now he’s on his way to U.S. citizenship.
The Olivares family came to Summit County from Mexico when Daniel was in kindergarten. They started working as housekeepers, seven days a week for about 10 hours a day.
Daniel’s father eventually got into construction and then worked as a painter, starting his own business in 2013 after working for many other employers.
“He was one of the first Latinos in Summit County to open his first company,” Daniel said.
In 2014, his mother opened her own housekeeping company, eventually cleaning up to about 50 properties per month.
With role models like these, it’s no wonder that Daniel was motivated to succeed, but it didn’t come without some challenges. Daniel had attended CU-Denver in 2015 and didn’t do well in school.
“I flunked out, but ever since then is when I began taking on the role of manager at my parents’ restaurant,” he said. “I finished school with honors two years later and now work a total of five businesses of my own, and seven family businesses total.”
That wasn’t without major hurdles to overcome, either. His parents ended up in a sticky situation with their business partner at the restaurant and they were at risk of losing all they had invested to open the place — money for remodeling and their commitment to a five-year lease. His parents persevered and decided to run the business on their own, drawing from their experience working in kitchens back in Mexico. They needed Daniel to help with the business side, as well as the language barrier.
“I’m the only one in my family who fluently speaks and understands English,” Daniel said. “So I learned all the ins and outs of the restaurant business.”
Daniel was able to apply for a liquor license, and they added karaoke in 2019. His father started selling street tacos in the parking lot in the summer months, and they’ve tirelessly adapted their practices to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Daniel said.
FirstBank is committed to supporting the people and organizations that make our communities thrive. This is the third of four FirstBank-sponsored articles spotlighting the extraordinary work happening here in Summit County.
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