Gabriel Bido is a 29-year-old Dominican entrepreneur currently living and working in Newark, New Jersey and making his American dream a reality. His catering company, GB CUISINE & EVENTS LLC, offers international cuisine for events and special occasions with an emphasis on the Dominican flavor. Customers describe it as “unique” for its authenticity in rich flavors and presentation, relishing its display and taste, which provide a well-rounded “gustatory experience.”
Gabriel migrated to Newark from the Dominican Republic in 2016, searching for a better life. Like many, he worked various short-term jobs in food and other industries but these jobs were dead-ends that led nowhere and paid minimum wage.
Finally in 2018, Gabriel said to himself, “If I left DR, my family and whole life behind to better myself, why should I work for someone else just like I did in DR, repeating the same pattern?” That’s when his entrepreneurial journey began.
“At the beginning it was rough,” Gabriel says. “Between borrowed kitchens and calderos, little by little I found an audience and started to sell lunches door-to-door in the local community. Word of mouth and social media helped grow the home-based business. I then introduced personalized Dominican appetizer platters, which is what launched my initial success.”
By August 2021, Gabriel was celebrating the grand opening of GB Cuisine & Events LLC at its own location. The business weathered the storm of the pandemic, thriving when many other businesses were forced to shut down. In fact, their demand increased tremendously during the pandemic with large order volumes and customers crazed for GB Cuisines services.
“I didn’t have the space or tools to sustain the demand. I was working out of an eight by twelve feet kitchen with a regular fridge, a stove, a table, a tabletop electric fryer, and a sink,” says Gabriel, describing this chaotic time.
During major holidays, Gabriel was putting out 12 to 20 orders containing dozens of handmade from scratch Dominican appetizers, flowers, personalized items, charcuterie, and other special items.
“It was getting to the point that to fulfill the demand, I started the day before the holiday, stayed up all night and packed everything to start delivering my platters by 7:00 am. The struggle was real. I needed to either expand or turn away customers.”
The underlying struggle throughout this time was where to get the funds to expand his business. As an immigrant still going through the immigration process to obtain residency, he did not qualify for a loan from a financial institution.
“My popularity and success placed me in an ocean filled with loan sharks, who wanted to help in exchange for the largest piece of empanada. But that would have placed me right back where I started- working for someone else. I realized that taking that step would mean losing the brand ‘GB Cuisine by Gabriel Bido.’ It was non-negotiable. I didn’t see it just as losing what I had worked for. I saw it as losing a piece of myself, my signature.”
Gabriel decided to hone down and focus on the business, cut expenses “and work like a maniac.” He surrounded himself with other entrepreneurs and like-minded friends. This seemed to make the universe align for him and in a matter of weeks, a store he had his eyes on was made available. Between his savings and a small loan from a trusted source, Gabriel was able to acquire the space and the rest is history.
“My takeaways from this struggle are to trust your instincts; know what is truly at stake; surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed, not leech off your success; and just move on doing what you do with passion. The rest will take care of itself.”
Soon, Gabriel was able to expand his business to offer international cuisine, food display and buffet setup, and personal chef experience for private gatherings. This growth has also allowed him to give back to the community that helped him make my dream a reality.
“To be able to succeed when the whole economic system was against it and to be able to provide for the community fills me with joy and a sense of accomplishment,” says Gabriel. “GB Cuisine is providing needed services, creating jobs, helping others open their own business, feeding the less fortunate throughout the year, and partaking in other community events. Seeing that others can benefit from GB’s success invigorates me. It’s also fulfilling that others recognize our efforts. Essex county and various organizations have celebrated our success and community impact in the small amount of time we have been around. If we did it against all odds, imagine what we can do when the odds are in our favor?”
Throughout his journey, Gabriel has learned to identify that one of his greatest strengths when it comes to his business is his authenticity, charisma, and unique flair.
“Identifying my greatest strength took some mind adjusting,” says Gabriel. “At first, I didn’t believe it. One workday, a team member said, ‘You know one of the main reasons people come in is because of you, your personality, charisma and that they feel they connect with you through social media, right?’ I stopped and was like ‘Really? You think that?’”
These comments intrigued Gabriel and after reflecting on them he realized that GB or Gabriel Bido is the brand and that people do not come just for the GB products, but also for Gabriel himself.
“@gbcuisine is a window into the business, but also into my life as a minority business owner. I am very direct, unique, quick-witted, and have an androgynous flair that people take to. A new customer once told me: ‘I can perceive your good vibes through the screen and that is why I wanted to try your product and came to see you.’ People want to see me, talk to me, take pictures as if I was a celebrity. I laugh in disbelief sometimes.”
Gabriel describes this as a double-edged sword though, as the business continues to expand it’s becoming harder and harder to have that direct contact with all his customers. Still, he cherishes that connection and tries to connect as much as possible on social media.
He also continues to share his insights, expertise, and resources with others like him looking to start their own businesses. His mantra is, “The sun shines for us ALL.” There are opportunities for everyone to be successful, even within the same industry.
“There are countless other catering businesses to choose from. Many of them are very successful. That does not take away from GB Cuisine,” he says. “I bring something unique and there is an audience for it. Some people question why I offer workshops showing how to make my products and how to start their own business in the same industry. I am confident that what I bring to the industry is unique to me and those whom I share my knowledge with will put their own spin on it once they take off. They will find their niche and it will be different from mine. It’s a faulty mentality that is ingrained in our culture, and in reality, ‘Your success will not take away from my success.’”
Follow Gabriel on Instagram @gbcuisine and check out GB Cuisine for your next catering needs!
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