In 1999, Husband & wife Rafael & Reina Soler-Bermudez began selling food at the Red Hook Ball fields, Brooklyn, NY. They began their business by borrowing money from friends and family to purchase an old van, 2 tables, a grill, a coffee pot, and few utensils. Rafael always tell the story of their first sale at the ball fields:
“Our first costumer ordered a coffee” he fondly recalls, “he handed us a $20 bill. We were so nervous and inexperienced that we forgot to bring change to break the bill. Embarrassed, we ended up giving away the coffee for free. That was our first sale!”
Like many micro-entrepreneurs, Reina & Rafael had no previous professional or vocational experience in the food industry. However, they had a good food product, a vision, and the willingness to work hard, learn from mistakes, and the perseverance that is trademark of those entrepreneurs that dared to dream, did, and finally conquered their goals of prosperity.
Throughout the years, Reina & Rafael’s business grew and eventually expanded, incorporating as SOLBER PUPUSAS in 2010. The corporate name comes from the fusion of their last names, and their featured food product–the PUPUSA–a traditional dish from Reina’s native country of El Salvador. They found it to be an ideal name given the fusion of culture, tradition, and love of good food that represents the couple and is a staple brand of the company.
Reina & Rafael’s business has earned a solid reputation and fame both as Red Hook Food Vendor, as well as Brooklyn Flea Vendor. They have been featured in multiple news articles, magazines, and prominent food blogs including The New York Times, New Yorker, and Serious Eats. The SOLBER PUPUSAS food truck was featured in a cameo appearance in one of chef Bobby Flay’s TV episodes, Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. In 2009, they were featured in an independent film festival that was later featured in the Food Network show Food, Curated by Liza de Guia. Famous TV personalities in the Food Industry like Anthony Bourdain, Ed Zimmern, Adam Richman, Sunny Anderson, & Iron Chefs Marcus Samuelsson, & Aaron Sanchez have tried and delighted on SOLBER PUPUSAS’ offerings.
Internationally, SOLBER PUPUSAS became known through special features in BBC in 2010, and in 2011 through British Food Network’s talented star chef Andy Bates in his show ‘Street Feasts’.
MAKING HISTORY…In late fall 2010 SOLBER PUPUSAS was discovered by Martha Stewart at the Brooklyn Flea. She became fascinated with its delicious and authentic food offerings. She invited Reina & Rafael to cook their PUPUSAS at her syndicated show ‘Martha Stewart Live’ which aired nationally in January, 2010. This marked a historic time as it was the first time PUPUSAS were introduced to the American culinary scene in her show, and the beginning of a true crossover into the mainstream American palate for this beloved Salvadoran dish.
AWARD WINNING CHAMPIONS…Reina & Rafael were Vendy Finalists in 2008. The Vendy Awards, considered the Oscar’s of the Food Vending world is a competition of the best street food vendors in NYC, selected of over 13,000 vendors chosen by popular vote by New Yorkers. While not wining the top prize then, they were humbled to be chosen among the top 5 competitors as it was an honor in of itself. However, it was in 2011 when Reina & Rafael were again chosen to participate at the Vendy’s, this time competing under their business name: SOLBER PUPUSAS. They were able to achieve victory and earn the coveted Vendy Cup, earn the title of best street vendor in NYC, and made history once again by earning the PUPUSA–for the first time ever–its rightful place amongst the best street foods in America. Upon receipt of the Vendy cup and teary eyed, Rafael once again told the story of their first sale at the Red Hook Ballfields. This time, he added a happy ending to the story in front of a cheering crowd nearly 1000 strong. “It was all worthwhile…to taste this moment… this is our American Dream!”
SOLBER PUPUSAS currently operates from a food truck at the Red Hook Ball Fields, Brooklyn, NY (weekends from April through October); various food stands at the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg markets (weekends, year round); as well as cater different events (corporate, weddings, etc.) by direct referral through their website, social media, and indirectly through Cater2Me.com year round.