Las Vegas restaurants
There’s no doubt that respect exists in the Vilariño family, a family-owned restaurant chain. Founder Antonio Vilariño, 75, bought Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine restaurants in 1984 when he couldn’t persuade the owner to sell him the adjacent grocery store. Having fled Cuba, Antonio was determined to make his Hollywood restaurant a hot spot for Cuban cuisine and immediately made it a family affair with his wife and five daughters, waiting tables and greeting customers.
As the girls grew, so did the business, with dad taking on the role of team manager, putting the right players in the right positions and letting them show their talent. Today, Antonio, his wife and four of the daughters divide the tasks of supervising 17 stores, ordering supplies, paying vendors and marketing to customers. “We’re in constant contact with each other,” explains daughter Miriam Vilariño, who manages the catering operations and the restaurants in Western Dade and Broward counties. “We decide together what takes priority.”
Today, the Vilariño daughters have their own daughters who they are training in the family business. Already, the girls, ages 17 through 2, spend time at the restaurants after school, making coffee, taking orders or greeting customers. Miriam, who has 17-year old twin daughters, says the entire family tries to mold them: “We want to instill our family values, which are entrepreneurship and perseverance.”
One of the biggest challenges of a family business can be the issue of entitlement. The two older generations of the Vilariños nip that attitude in the bud: “The granddaughters still do the same thing as bus boys. They have to work hard, chip in and they must set examples just like we do,” Miriam says. “Employees love them because they are part of the team. They are taught that things are not given, they are earned.”
Still in high school, Natalie Vilariño Borowski shadows her grandfather whenever possible, watching how he uses the skills that have made the business successful. “He shows me how to treat people when they come in and how to give them good customer service.” From watching her mother, she has learned dedication, something she knows a textbook would never be able to teach: “My mom and her sisters are always at the restaurants. I wake up and she’s there. On the weekends she’s there. But I also learn that dedication and that hard work pays off. “
Already, Natalie and her sister, Valerie, are contributing, appealing to a reluctant grandfather to embrace social media. They’ve created a Facebook page, reworked the marketing and advertising materials, and convinced grandpa to allow them to respond to online reviews.
With multiple family members involved, disagreement is inevitable. When an issue arises, Antonio calls a meeting at his home and serves as the diplomat, calmly making a determination that the others agree to follow. “We disagree every day like any family,” Miriam says. “However there is a passion for what we do, respect for my dad and the family name. At end of day, we may disagree on a business level, but we are united as a family.”
Antonio says he is proud of his accomplishments, but he is still not satisfied. He wants to take Las Vegas restaurants national, to the biggest cities in the United States.”I talk a lot with my granddaughters about what I envision for the business and for them,” he says.