Hispanic Heritage Month: Local restaurant owner reflects after arriving in US with only $100

Hispanic Heritage Month

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Wednesday, Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off across the country. The month is dedicated to celebrating and honoring the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans in communities. 

News 8 is excited to be sharing the stories of local Hispanic Americans throughout the month, beginning with the story of a local woman who moved to Rochester in 2013. 

Tatiana Warren grew up in Costa Rica and lived there her entire life until almost a decade ago, when she moved to the United States to marry her husband. 

“I came with $100 in my pocket,” Warren recalled. 

Her two sons back were still in Costa Rica at the time and Tatiana wanted to send them money. 

“I started to find a job. I was calling everywhere to try to find a job but it was wasn’t that good because I don’t have no papers in that moment,” Warren said. 

She began working, sometimes doing 2-3 jobs a day. This was a big change from her job in Costa Rica. 

“I was working in two restaurants, and I was working in a farm, and I was working as a flower designer,” Warren said. “I was working in micro business for 21 years in Costa Rica.”

Tatiana’s hard work paid off. She found she loved the restaurant industry, after becoming a partner of a Mexican Restaurant. Then, after a while, Warren and her husband decided to open Pura Vida Ville in Rochester, which serves Mexican and Costa Rican dishes.

“We’ve been doing this for now for about five years, we’ve learned a lot, and we’re still growing actually,” said Reginald Warren, the Co-owner of Pura Vida Ville and Tatiana’s husband. 

Pura Vida Ville is one of only restaurants in the area that serves Costa Rican food, something that is important to Warren and her husband. 

“As a Costa Rican I like to show who we are, and about our food, our culture, it’s a little piece of my country here,” Warren said. 

The couple says they have seen their restaurant teach customers about the Costa Rican heritage, and has even encouraged a few to make a trip to the country themselves. 

“There is still a small Costa Rican community here…then when they see our name: Pura Vida, they’re like ‘Pura Vida! Okay, so we got to come visit,'” Reginald said. 

“There is a lot of diversity and people living here from many, many countries, and people can know who we are, where we are, where we are from, our food, our culture,” Warren added. 

The restaurant is open six days a week and serves customers from all over the area. Seeing how much his wife has accomplished in the past decade, is something that brings a smile to Reginald’s face.  

“I’m proud every day. I mean, she’s one of these one of the hardest working people I know,” he said. 

Warren says many people have supported them since they moved to their new location on Buffalo Road in October. . 

“Sometimes when everything is really hard in a restaurant business and I say, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna close the restaurant,’ but when I when I see my customers and they always are really grateful, they always say thank you, thank you for my dinner, thank you for my lunch…. this is for me, is more like they warmed my heart,” she said. 

However, like most businesses, the pandemic has been tough on Pura Vida Ville, and Reginald encourages people to continue to support small restaurants like theirs. 

“The more people we get in, the more support that we receive from the community, you know, the longer we’ll be able to stay and continue serving the good food that we serve here,” he said. 

Reginald is also starting to make his own Costa Rican coffee at the restaurant. He says he will be visiting the country in a month to get beans and start working with a roaster locally. In the meantime, he said you can buy his coffee online at puravidavillecoffeecompany.com

You can also learn more about Pure Vida Ville restaurant by clicking here

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