OMAR & CESIN CURI

omar_photoOmar Curi was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He came to the United States at the age of two with his parents. Omar’s father was diagnosed with leukemia before migrating to the US, and spent time in Italy where he received a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. Soon after, in order to gain access to Boston’s innovative medical treatment, Omar’s family moved to Providence, RI with some Bolivian relatives who were already settled in the state.

Before getting sick and traveling to receive treatment, Omar’s father had several successful developments in Bolivia.

My father, in fact, had one of the biggest markets and restaurants and a big farm. My father was always in the restaurant, so my whole entire family was pretty much raised in this industry.

Omar got his first job in Providence when he was only twelve years old, making salads and washing dishes in a local restaurant.

Omar went to public school K-12 in North Providence, where his experiences were good ones. Arriving in the state at such a young age and being an immigrant did not affect him fitting in socially at all. When asked how he got his restaurant, Los Andes, started – Omar describes it as “A big accident”. While delivering newspapers for the Providence Journal, Omar got the idea that he could make some extra money by doing some landscaping for some of the customers that he delivered papers for. Soon after, he realized he was severely allergic to poison ivy.

Without intending to run a business at all and less than 21 years old, the opportunity fell into Omar’s lap to help manage another local Bolivian establishment. One day while Omar was at the restaurant, the owner (who he knew very well) asked him to give her a hand. At the end of the day, the owner offered him a job. Two months later, he was asked to help run the restaurant. Not wanting to get wrapped up in a complicated situation where the restaurant would be under his management but not officially his, Omar backed out of the deal.

Frustrated and wanting a place to call his own instead of just managing, Omar saw a “For Rent” sign on the building that is now the home of Los Andes.

“I called and called the number, and finally a couple days later they picked up the phone. I met up with the owner, came to look at the place, and the guy gave me an offer that was really generous. I took it.”

He asked his older brother, Cesin, if he would join the restaurant and he agreed and joined Omar that year. Cesin was already the manager of a five-star Italian restaurant at the time, and knew the business well. The location of Los Andes was already set up as a restaurant, so Omar just had to make it his own. “I was like, yeah, I’ll get this done in like three or four days…it took us about a month to get the whole entire place done.”

Today, Los Andes is a thriving Bolivian restaurant on Chalkstone Avenue in Providence, RI. “I never thought we would be where we are right now. Seven days a week, it’s crazy – weekends we even have a reservation list.” Most of the recipes are family traditions from Omar’s father, but others, such as the restaurant’s specials – are creations by his brother, Cesin.The restaurant has wonderful ratings and reviews. There have been multiple reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp, as well as several stories within Providence Monthly. 2012 was Los Andes’ biggest year yet – receiving awards from Providence Monthly and Rhode Island Monthly of “Best Dining Experience”, “South American Cuisine of the Year”, “Best Exotic Menu”, just to name a few. Omar has been a part of shows on FOX Providence and The Rhode Show, and will be featured on Chef Rebar on FOX next month. He has even received recognition from the State of Rhode Island for being the most successful Hispanic entrepreneur of Rhode Island.

Omar has not forgotten about the community throughout his growing success either, and is constantly giving back. “Whatever we can do; what goes around comes around, you know?”

Omar hasn’t stopped creating new goals for himself with the success of Los Andes. This is just the beginning! The restaurant is expanding to the second floor where a ceviche bar and a Peruvian style sushi bar will be opening within the next four months. Omar and his brothers also have plans to open a Bolivian rotisserie chicken restaurant in the building across the street. He has a vision for the future of Chalkstone Avenue in Providence:

“I’m not sure if you’re familiar [with] Federal Hill? It started with one Italian restaurant. So in the future we want to establish Chalkstone – with Los Andes as the start – as a South American community. Los Andes [is] the mountains of South America, and you have [countries such as] Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. Down the line there will be a Peruvian restaurant, an Argentinean restaurant, etc….”

Rhode Island has been Omar’s home for the vast majority of his life. Now he is giving back to the community and transforming the city of Providence. He is sharing his culture and putting his mark on a place that has helped to make him into the man he is today.

 

Compiled and Written by Jenna Delgado and Brianna Smith