Ay, Que Rico!
Jorge Fierro’s Recipe to Success
Spend a little time with Jorge Fierro, and you realize Rico is more than the brand for his successful line of 75 Mexican food products — it’s his personal brand. While Rico means “delicious,” (and his food products definitely are) it also means “generous” and “abundant,” which perfectly describe this Salt Lake City entrepreneur.
Attitude of Abundance
Wherever Fierro is, he finds abundance. When he dropped out of his second year of law school in Mexico to learn English and work as a sheepherder in Rawlins, Wyoming, he knew it would be difficult but rewarding.
“I come from a very good family, and my dad was disappointed in me leaving school, but I knew it was what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. What you do is never little or insignificant, if you use it as a stepping stone for your goals,” says Fierro, the owner of Rico Cocina y Tequila Bar (formerly Frida Bistro until last month), Rico Foods and Rico Mexican Market.
Salt Lake City was not in his original plans, “but for whatever reason, I ended up here,” he says. “I stayed in the rescue mission, and one of the first places I found was Our Lady of Guadalupe church. I was welcomed and accepted and made friends. It was amazing.”
Thirty-two years later, Fierro still lives on the west side and treasures the abundant diversity and acceptance he enjoys there.
Wealth of Opportunity
“You’re always going to hear me talk about opportunity; this country is full of opportunities, if you look for them,” Fierro says.
Fresh upon his arrival in Salt Lake City, a terrible-tasting can of refried beans opened Fierro’s eyes to selling his own delicious and freshly cooked pinto beans. First, he sold them at the Downtown Farmers Market Salt Lake City and then at a string of farmers markets. As his success grew, Fierro founded Rico Mexican Market. Now Rico-brand products are available in nearly 100 stores and restaurants in Utah.
Eventually, Fierro expanded operations into a warehouse near the market, where he recognized another opportunity. “The front of the warehouse was the employee dining room,” Fierro says. “People would drive by and see people eating and would come in, expecting a restaurant.” The brightly colored Frida’s Bistro opened in 2010 to rave reviews.
Spirit of Generosity
From the time Fierro was 3 years old, he was fascinated with the American spirit of philanthropy. “I saw TV programs talking about what Americans were doing to help people in other countries and it impacted me in a big way,” he says.
Today Fierro generously devotes his time to five nonprofit boards. And for six years, he has donated 400 hand-rolled burritos four nights a week to people living on the streets in downtown Salt Lake City. He calls it the Burrito Project. Fierro provides the food; volunteers assemble the burritos at his warehouse and distribute them.
It sounds like a lot of food to give away, but Fierro disagrees. “It’s very little compared to the acceptance and opportunity this community has given me,” he says. “I’m very blessed and I’m just doing my part.”