[Okinawa Start-up Entrepreneur Story] – Story of El Santo Fry Shoppe, Mark Inocentes
[Okinawa Start-up Entrepreneur Story]
Vol.1 Mark Inocentes – El Santo Fry Shoppe
We interviewed Mark Inocentes and his partner Nanase from “El Santo Fry Shoppe” about their experience in opening new business.
Thinking about starting a new business in Okinawa
Q. Have you been familiar with Koza / Okinawa area?
Mark) I started visiting Koza, Okinawa around 2017. Since we host house dance events and dance school, that led us to visit Galaxy (dance studio) for the first time, and we were introduced to RJ’s Social form around February 2018.
Q. When did you learn about Lagoon’s program?
Mark) As I continue to do dance events, the owner of RJ’s Social asked me “why don’t you give it a try to serve your Carnitas potatoes in the events that you always saying that you will do it someday for sure?”
Then, when I was actually serving the Carnitas potatoes at the event, Toyosato-san from Lagoon walked by and actually tried them. He was so delighted when he ate it, and introduced me to the program at that night.
Nanase) Immediately after that, we had a discussion at home and I said, “You should definitely do it!” I strongly supported him. Because I felt that it was a great chance for him to achieve what he always wanted to do.
Mark) I thought I would not understand how it actually is without doing, so I thought it would be a good experience for me to be able to test a lot.
Q. In fact, immediately after joining the program, all the facility staff became fans of your potatoes.
Mark) It’s a good memory that I needed serve multiple portions on a big plate instead of a small takeaway container since everyone asks all at once.
Things Learned – from participating in the program
Q. You’ve made great improvements as you participated in the program. Not only the products themselves, but also how you present your products and stores.
Mark) After all, when I tried it, I realized things like “I have to give a more easy-to-understand guidance,” or “There should be non-spicy options for families,” and so on. So I continued to improve my ideas according to the reaction of the customers.
Q. When did you started to think that you want to do food business?
Mark) I’ve always loved to cook, and I’m still working in the American Military Base cooking school lunch for middle school. I cook 200 meals a day!
I wanted to be a chef since high school. I’ve loved eating since I was little. Thus, my passion to food and starting my own business guided me to start thinking about doing the food business.
I also love the movie “Chef”, and I am deeply in love with the way how food trucks offers, and it fits my world view that I want to make, so I am currently preparing for operating a food truck.
(Nanase) Everyone in the family is supporting Marc, and our 6-year old daughter even asks “When you will start El Santo? I want to help the shop!” She is waiting with such excitement!
Marc is currently preparing for a food truck and gaining experience by selling in events, while actively improving products and promoting the store on SNS.
We dearly look forward to see his success!
(Interview: Hidaka, Shimabukuro)
El Santo Fry Shoppe
Our Food Business Start-up Support Program
Start up Lab Lagoon provides a start-up support program for those who wish to start a food business with the trial kitchen in the facility. Before the actual opening, you can gain the essential experience such as product development, operation management, and public relations/advertisements. Start small, and build experience by obtaining a business permit while actually selling you product in the trial kitchen.
If you are interested, please feel free to contact us at info[at]lagoon-koza.com