Hazelnut flour, maqui, murta, pine nuts and plenty of local products are the main characteristic of the dishes prepared at the “Su Merced” restaurant in Cañete, Biobío region, in Chile.
“We wanted to make a difference, with our own style, through our preparations,” says its owner Mercedes Freire. This is the reason why since the end of 2018, together with her family, she began working with products from the area, one hundred percent natural, once the restaurant opened.
But just a year after having ventured into opening her gastronomic establishment, the Chilean social outbreak started, a situation that complicated “Su Merced”, and months later the coronavirus pandemic arrived into the country.
Thus, this restaurant began to receive only a third of the profits it had prior to the Covid-19 crisis and had to reinvent its business, being one of the first places in the area to offer delivery service.
“Today I can’t say what our main dish is because we had to vary our menu a lot to be able to offer delivery service. People’s needs change when we are in contexts like the current one, and if before we had grilled salmon with shrimp sauce, or quinoa with vegetables, now we have had to turn it around, offering for example pizzas and oven empanadas, but always everything with natural products ”, says the entrepreneur.
On the other hand, she confesses that “this is a totally family business. After many years working in a dependent way in tourism and gastronomy, it became a dream to have something of my own. I owe myself and I owe my family the necessary effort so that this does not fall apart”.
That is why Mercedes agreed to participate in the Arriba Todos Juntos program, an initiative promoted by the company CMPC that seeks to reactivate the local economy of communes in the Biobío and La Araucanía regions, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and tourism managers, through the delivery of health kits and preventive signage; trainings to promote business development; and the tourist reactivation of the areas supported by the project.
Today, thanks to Arriba Todos Juntos, she is ready to receive her clients safely, complying with all sanitary measures, and continues to offer the varied menu that the restaurant had prior to the pandemic.
“The fact that CMPC has decided to donate these kits for us is something wonderful, because it greatly supports us to be able to reactivate little by little and receive clients safely. We have been dragging the consequences for a long time, and it has been very hard. We need to move forward”, confesses Mercedes.