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How Sofia Deleon, a fast-casual entrepreneur, got scrappy to grow during the pandemic

The leader of El Merkury, an emerging Philadelphia-based concept, shares how she’s survived labor, supply chain and inflation challenges.


Sofia Deleon only had one location open of her Philadelphia-based fast casual El Merkury when the pandemic started. All of the growth momentum for the Central American concept, which serves pupusas, tostadas, taquitos and churros, suddenly disappeared.

But Deleon didn’t back down from the fight. The entrepreneur got scrappy and creative as she navigated one challenge after another, and not only did she open a second location in the middle of the pandemic, but she’s also planning to expand into more small-footprint locations around Philadelphia.

Deleon joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to share how she’s tackled the various challenges, including labor, supply chain and inflation. In this conversation, you’ll find out why: 

  • Find some common ground with your customers if the menu is new to them
  • In this off-premises world, it pays to make your menu more travel-friendly
  • A commissary model could help fuel growth, particularly into small-footprint locations
  • Everyone is raising prices, and your customers will probably forgive you for it
  • Unique store extensions can be great billboards for growth

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].

TAGS: Fast Casual
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