El Nuevo Delicioso is small biz of the year

Ruperto Morocho (center) opened El Nuevo Delicioso at the Hub in 1991. Mayor Michael Bloomberg named the Ecuadorian and Dominican restaurant 2008 Bronx Small Business of the Year on Monday, July 13. Photo by Daniel Beekman

On Monday, July 13, at Gracie Mansion, the Department of Small Business Services honored El Nuevo Delicioso as 2008 Bronx Small Business of the Year. El Nuevo Delicioso is an Ecuadorian and Dominican restaurant in the south Bronx where rotisserie chickens spin slow and good times roll.

Ruperto Morocho, 51, left Ecuador for the United States in 1974. He and his father worked in a restaurant; his boss had Morocho wash dishes and shop at the market. In 1991, he and his wife, originally from the Dominican Republic, opened El Nuevo Delicioso at the Hub – Third Avenue and E. 149th Street.

In order to rent the spot, Morocho borrowed from his father, his sister, his brother-in-law. He worked at the restaurant. So did his wife. It was a family venture. Today, the Hub is a money magnet – the heart of a revitalized south Bronx. Then, it had yet to recover from the arson and crime of the 1970s and 1980s.

“It was tough,” Morocho said. “We worked very hard.”

In 1994, the restaurant turned a profit, testament to the Morochos’ determination. They opened a second spot on E. 148th Street and Bergen Avenue in 2005. The E. 149th Street restaurant seats 15; the E. 148th Street spot seats 125.

Why did El Nuevo Delicioso succeed where scores of Latin American restaurants failed? The chicken. Diners come from Manhattan and Queens, New Jersey and Long Island, Rockland and Westchester to sample Morocho’s rotisserie chicken. He and his wife invented the recipe; it’s a family secret.

Morocho had an unexpected boost in 2008 when he discovered the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. SoBro suggested that Morocho apply for an SBS grant. He won and used the money to renovate El Nuevo Delicioso on E. 149th Street. Morocho installed an A/C unit and new appliances.

“SoBro helped me,” he said. “I went to SoBro and my eyes opened. Now I want to grow. I want to open up another restaurant and give jobs to the people.”

El Nuevo Delicioso serves healthy food – an alternative to the fast food restaurants that dot the neighborhood. The Morochos employ 12 Bronxites full time with health benefits. Morocho, a soft-spoken block of a man, was thrilled when SoBro phoned to confirm the July 13 award. However, Morocho is far from done. He hopes to open more restaurants and won’t retire for at least ten years. He wants to buy a van to shuttle produce between El Nuevo Delicioso and Hunts Point.

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