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Café owner overcomes adversity to become a small business success story

Visit the Pink Rose Café in San Diego’s La Mesa neighborhood today and you’ll find a bustling scene, with people lining up to buy various coffee and tea concoctions or its cotton candy-topped Unicorn Lemonade, and eager to have their pictures taken in front of the rose-covered wall and other social media-ready backdrops.

But as busy and successful as the café is today, this small business almost never opened its doors.

When the Pink Rose was being constructed in early 2020, owner Nadia Zamora and her husband, Jose Guzman, faced delays brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Then when social unrest erupted on May 30, 2020, resulting in the Union Bank branch being burned down, and other businesses in the area damaged, rioters also vandalized the café and stole construction equipment.

Pink Rose Café owner, Nadia Zamora, shares her small business success story
Pink Rose Café owner Nadia Zamora

Despite her own setbacks, Zamora rallied the community, organizing an event to paint signs of hope that were hung on the fencing around the destroyed Union Bank branch.

As a gesture of gratitude, Union Bank in partnership with the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce surprised Zamora in November 2020 with a $5,000 Community Award to help her and Guzman with the café construction.

Facing further delays in opening the café as well as costs well beyond what they had budgeted for, Zamora and Guzman decided a few days before the check presentation that they would stop the work on the small business that didn’t seem destined to be.

“We were just throwing money into it and there was so much pushback,” Zamora said.

But when Union Bank surprised Zamora with the check, they decided to move forward.

“It wasn’t just the financial donation,” Zamora said. “Knowing that the community was behind us, along with Union Bank, was the push that we needed, and we were able to bring our vision to fruition.”

After opening, the Pink Rose was featured in a viral TikTok video, attracting customers from across the city and across the United States.

View Zamora’s Pink Rose Café small business success story in this 90-second video.

Find more information about Union Bank Business Banking or connect with a Business Banker.


Written by Erik Battenberg