Tullpa Restaurant in Des Moines is savoring its grand opening thanks to help freshly served from the Evelyn K Davis Center

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Tullpa Restaurant Founder Gloria Henriquez.
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By the Evelyn K Davis Center Small Business Development Program

Des Moines residents can feast on authentic Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Colombian food at Tullpa Restaurant on Merle Hay Road. Founder Gloria Henriquez turned up the heat and launched Tullpa in early January 2023.

“It’s a fusion cuisine. We are trying to fuse a little from here, a little from there,” Gloria said. “Everyday the sales are going little by little bit up, so people are starting to notice our restaurant, our sign, our social medias.”

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Gloria relocated to Iowa from New York four years ago. As the previous general manager for a fast-food company, Gloria had a lot of experience in the restaurant industry. It wasn’t until her move to Iowa, however, that producing a restaurant herself seemed achievable.

“I thought it [her dream] was something probably too big. It’s a big decision, you know; you have to prepare yourself with a lot of stuff. But then when I came here, I started to work with different restaurants, and I was like, ‘Maybe I will consider to open my own restaurant’,” Gloria said.

Gloria turned to the Evelyn K Davis Center (EKDC) to stir up her dream. She knew the nonprofit business would provide the right ingredients to achieve this feat.

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“I was looking for coaching and support at that moment and they really did a lot for me. They worked with me; they introduced me with somebody who can do one-on-one with me,” Gloria said.

Gloria was partnered with a business coach who walked her through the journey, including conducting research and explaining the business formation process. In addition, Gloria took advantage of additional classes being offered at the EKDC, like computer skills for small businesses. “I never had a center like that in New York – where you can go and interact with somebody who can coach you and guide you in a different aspect, even though you are doing business or preparing yourself for something else. And I think that’s a huge thing – to have that type of community support in Des Moines,” Gloria said.

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Gloria reached out to the EKDC because of its support for minorities. Although her original intent was to gain the knowledge to start a business, Gloria walked away with credit help, financial assistance, and an increased network.

“I always feel like it’s a community center working for us – for the small minorities or for whoever needs help. It’s like you go there, and they have a lot of different programs from small business solutions to even if you need help to prepare yourself with interviews,” Gloria said. Like the EKDC, Tullpa exists to serve the citizens of Des Moines. Gloria emphasizes that her restaurant is a welcoming place for all ages and ethnicities.

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“The Latino population in Iowa is growing, but also at the same time, I see the acceptance from all the neighborhood and the community of the Latino food,” Gloria said. ““My vision is to see my restaurant go to the next level. You know, be well known in the area where people can come and have a meal, have a good time. We want to make sure we keep that family environment.”

Gloria says her favorite Tullpa dishes include any with fish – particularly the Mojara Frita. Tullpa even hired a chef who moved to the United States 2 months ago, full of fresh recipes and authentic taste.

Currently, there are around 12 staff members in Tullpa’s kitchen, but Tullpa is looking to expand this number as sales continue to increase. The EKDC is proud to have helped serve Gloria success.

“I’ve been very grateful with what the Evelyn K Davis Center did for me, and I always feel like they do have a lot of resources and they offer you a lot of support. And that, for a small business owner, it means a lot,” Gloria said.

Check out Tullpa Restaurant at 3708 Merle Hay Road or at https://www.tullparestaurant.com.

To learn more about the Small Business Development Program at the Evelyn K Davis Center visit: https://www.evelynkdaviscenter.org/Pages/smallbusiness.aspx

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