How This Venezuelan Chef Found Help to Keep Her Restaurant Afloat During COVID


Manuela Villasmil, one of three owners and chefs of the Venezuelan sensation restaurant Puyero, faced challenges during COVID. But with her resilience and the help of Comcast RISE, she was able to keep it afloat.

A Business Built on Family

Manuela’s passion for Venezuelan cooking is contagious, and her hustle is admirable. She pours her heart into the Venezuelan restaurant, Puyero in Philadelphia, PA.

For Manuela, her husband, and her brother-in-law, Puyero represents a chance to celebrate their Venezuelan roots and reconnect with their heritage. Together, they have mixed Caribbean flavors that have conquered the hearts of those who dined at their restaurant.

Running a Business Is Learning How to Constantly Pivot & Adapt

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Puyero, like many other restaurants, had to close its doors. An emerging family restaurant faced a big challenge – adapt or close. 

So, Manuela and her husband decided to stay afloat. They went back to the kitchen along with their baby, who, during this time, learned to walk in the kitchen. They were also cooking and preparing food to-go for those loyal customers that never let them down. Puyero was hanging in there, but times were hard for them, especially when the pandemic was forcing nearly 200,000 establishments across the U.S to close permanently.

Know When And Where to Ask for Help

But we Latines are very good at exhausting options. So Manuela reached out to her Sisterly Love Collective and learned about the grants that Comcast RISE was awarding to small business owners of color. She decided to apply. 

With this Comcast RISE grant, both money and hope came to Puyero. Money to rehire their amazing staff with a better salary and hope that things were getting back on track. 

Today, Puyero is still serving healthy and flavorful Venezuelan dishes. There are still challenges and things to do, but with the help of Comcast RISE and their hustle, the future looks bright. They have their staff back, are open again for dining in, and are planning more surprises for the upcoming months. 

For all of our amigas in Philly, head to Puyero to try amazing Venezuelan flavors from a Latina-owned small biz. To know where they are and when they are open, follow them on Instagram.

For the last 2 years, Comcast RISE has helped 13,000 POC and women-owned small businesses with monetary grants and marketing and technology resources to elevate their business. They have created a map of Comcast RISE recipients so that you can support your local small businesses, like Puyero. Check it out, and remember to support small businesses this holiday season and beyond!

Learn more about Puyero here and follow them on Instagram here.


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