Tropicaleo :: A Story of a Birmingham Mompreneur

We partnered with Tropicaleo to bring you this inspirational post.

I’ve always held a high regard for entrepreneurs. The pure drive and courage one must have to open a business of their own is something I could never imagine doing myself. Combine that with running a family? You are my hero. The term “mompreneur” has become popular in recent years. I find it refreshing, a badge of honor of sorts, that there is a special term for mothers who are entrepreneurs. It truly takes a special person to be able to navigate being a mother and a business owner.

Tropicaleo Puerto Rican Restaurant is owned by mompreneur Isabel Medina
Successful restaurant Tropicaleo is owned by mompreneur, Isabel Medina

Isabel Medina, owner of Birmingham’s Tropicaleo, has been successfully managing both for almost two years. She and her husband Gabe were prompted to open the business because they are food allergy parents, and they got their start at the Pizitz Food Hall in the Reveal Kitchen. To Isabel, owning and managing a business is much like handling children. There are aspects of it you love, but there are also challenges.

One of Isabel’s favorite things about being a mompreneur is the flexibility. There is no boss for her to report to or ask for time off, which allows her to spend more time with her children.

As immigrants, the Puerto Rican restaurant keeps Isabel’s family connected to their culture. She loves that her kids take ownership of the family business. They love to talk about the restaurant with their teachers and friends.

With perks come demands. Time management can be very challenging, especially in the beginning. Things will ease once you have a system in place.

One of Isabel’s secrets to success is to ask for help. She says, “Get help with things you don’t enjoy. Someone else will have a blast doing it!” They have found a dependable team of people to help make Tropicaleo a success.

The restaurant business can be especially difficult since it is customer service driven. After opening Tropicaleo, Isabel learned quickly that people are much more understanding than she expected. If you make a mistake, own it and people generally understand.

Another tip she has as a mompreneur is to ask other business owners for advice. From finding out the vendors they like to use (or avoid) to general stories of success (or failure), talking to people who have been there and done that can yield great results.

Most of all, Isabel wishes to support and encourage moms with ideas for brick and mortar businesses. She is a shining example that it can be done.

If you haven’t visited Tropicaleo, add it to your must-try list today! We had our contributor party there in January, and the food and hospitality were wonderful! Isabel is so passionate about her restaurant and the food she puts out! We made sure Tropicaleo was on our Top Family-Friendly Restaurants in Birmingham list because the business was 100% created with both her own family and those who visit in mind. Enjoy!

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Beth lives in Vestavia Hills, Ala. with her husband, Grant, and their two sons, Ian (3.5) and Colin (22 months). They also have a 95lb furbaby named Bailey that gets into more trouble than both kids. Beth grew up in Connecticut and is a Yankee at heart but moved to the South where she attended the University of Alabama and fell in love with the charm (and weather) of Southern life. After a decade-long marketing career and short stint back from maternity leave, Beth made the incredibly difficult decision to pause her career and become a stay-at-home mom. While at times she questions that decision, along with her sanity, she has absolutely no regrets. When she isn't chasing two crazy boys and trying to tame their wild beast of a dog, Beth enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, hiking, exploring Birmingham, reading, and long-distance running.