• Barrio's Living Library

La Bendicion, The Blessing

Updated: Feb 14

Alba Alvarado came to the United States 15 years ago for the same reason so many other immigrants travel to this country – to create a better life for her children.

“I grew up in a very poor family,” Alvarado, 46, said in Spanish. “I did not have my parents and I was raised by my grandparents. My grandma would cook one egg and split it into meals for us. There were times when all I would eat is tortillas with salt.”

Now, she is making and selling to others the delicious Central American food she was not even fortunate enough to have as a child. She considers it a blessing.

Her food truck La Bendición, Spanish for “The Blessing,” at 1841 Kutztown Road in Reading is a realization of her dream to run her own business.

Alvarado specializes in pupusas, stuffed thick cornmeal flatbread native to her home country, El Salvador. Pupusas are most commonly filled with cheese and chicharrón, or fried pork. But she also offers pupusas locas (crazy pupusas), which are stuffed with stringy cheese, chicharrón, chicken, beans, squash and edible flowers.

Aside from pupusas, she also sells Salvadoran tortas, or sandwiches, and larger dinner plates on the weekends. She also presses fruit juices.

All of her food is made fresh and by hand, which she says makes it healthier and more delicious.

In previous years Alvarado had sold her food out of her home or at local soccer fields on the weekends. Last year she learned of an opportunity to rent the food truck on Kutztown Road, formerly Antojitos Caribeños (Caribbean Snacks).

Wanting to take her business to the next level, Alvarado said she gained essential knowledge from a business course the Reading Public Library offered in the fall.

Alvarado said though she had experience running her business out of her north-Reading home, she learned skills such as handling her finances, how to set prices and how to craft a business plan.

The four-week course corresponded with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and honors the cultural and historical contributions of Latinos.

Jobany Bedoya, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s small business and Latino outreach coordinator, helped lead the course.

Bedoya has remained in contact with Alvarado since the class, helping guide her through all of the legal requirements and red tape of owning and operating the business.

“Most entrepreneurs can do something well and then they want to go into business for that thing,” Bedoya said. “But they also have to make sure everything is legit and done correctly.”

Bedoya said that micro businesses, those that have less than 25 employees, pop up all over Reading and are essential elements to local economy.

“They are vital to Reading,” Bedoya said. “They are stimulating our economy and create a lot of movement of money.”

Bedoya said Alvarado chose a good location for her food truck, located near manufacturing plants and near a north Reading neighborhood.

Alvarado said she has been pleasantly surprised by the different types and number of people that patronize La Bendición. On the weekends, Alvarado can have a steady line of customers and crank out dozens and dozens of fresh pupusas.

Alvarado said she is blessed and that is the reason she named her business La Bendición.

“I get emotional sometimes because there were times I didn’t believe in myself,” Alvarado said. “God takes care of me, I am so thankful and I am not afraid of anything.”


Business: La Bendicion food truck.

What: Fresh Salvadoran food.

Location: 1841 Kutztown Road, Reading,

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Barrio Alegria is a community transformation organization located in Reading that utilizes the arts as a platform for community engagement and for the development of social and multicultural awareness.

 

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140 N. 5th Street

Reading, Pennsylvania 19601

info@barrioalegria.org

610-743-3313

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