Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
As both a young woman and a hispanic restauranteur, Alejandra Chávez has beaten the odds with her successful El Paso restaurant and catering business, Thyme Matters. In this interview, she recounts her childhood, education, and early career, and ends with advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in general and restaurant owners in particular. Born in Houston, Texas, in 1977, Chávez moved with her family to El Paso at the age of three. Both her father, a physician, and her mother, a journalist, emigrated from Mexico and, although neither initially spoke English, they managed to succeed in this country while modeling a strong work ethic and high standards. After attending El Paso’s Loretto Academy, Chávez went on to earn a degree in corporate communications with a minor in business at the University of Texas at Austin. Even though she quickly advanced in the business world, first working as a corn trader for Cargill and later as a risk manager for Enron, Chávez remained unsatisfied. Realizing that cooking was truly her passion, she left her job in 2002 and spent the entire year in Italy learning to cook and working at various restaurants. After her return to El Paso, Chávez secured a Small Business Administration loan and started up Thyme Matters in 2004, concentrating primarily on catering and offering only a tiny eat-in space consisting of four tables. Five years later, her business has grown to a larger, full-service restaurant employing twenty-two workers. Although the restaurant business is a high-risk industry, Chávez maintains that hard work, passion, and attention to detail will ensure success. Furthermore, she insists that “food is very powerful,” and even though life in the corporate work provided benefits she no longer enjoys, her role in the community now fulfills her life-long desire to be of service.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Alejandra Chávez by Edmundo Valencia, 2009, "Interview no. 1530," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.