ARIZONA NEWS

Puerto Rican restaurant Phoenix Coqui takes advantage of opportunities ahead of Final Four

Mar 29, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: Apr 2, 2024, 4:00 pm

Phoenix Coqui NFL Business Connect Program...

The business started as a food truck in 2017. (Phoenix Coqui photos/via Facebook)

(Phoenix Coqui photos/via Facebook)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Coqui, a Phoenix Puerto Rican restaurant, will continue its partnership with the NFL through the Business Connect program ahead of the Final Four in early April.

The program seeks to uplift diverse local businesses and set them up with valuable resources and professional connections. The events host committee licenses out the NFL program to other national events.

That means local business owners like Alex Carbajal can benefit from the influx of sports tourism that comes from various big events.

“The fact that the Valley has this attention placed on it and that there are local businesses that can participate and service suppliers for these events is just amazing in and of itself,” Carbajal told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Carbajal, who co-owns Phoenix Coqui with partner Juan Ayala, first connected with the program during last year’s Super Bowl.

“That was great for us, and having, now, this exciting event, the Final Four, come to Phoenix, we’re looking forward to just being able to make some connections here that allow us to make the most of that experience as well,” Carbajal said.

How NFL program helps diverse Valley businesses

The Business Connect program’s head of marketing, Meredith Painter, said the initiative connects diverse businesses with equitable and inclusive partnerships.

The main point of the program is to help business owners take advantage of the influx of sports tourism that comes along with major Valley events, she added.

“It supports minority, women, LGBQT+ and veteran-owned businesses through professional development, workshops, networking and contract opportunities for major sporting events such as Super Bowl LVII and the 2024 NCAA Men’s Final Four,” Painter said in a release.

All businesses involved in the program are required to be certified as minority, women, veteran or LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Additionally, they must have an established business office in Arizona for more than three years.

Phoenix Coqui grew from a food truck to a restaurant

Carbajal initially started the business as a food truck in 2017.

“We are the Valley’s No. 1 Puerto Rican restaurant, so your source of everything from mofongo to empanadillas,” he said.

The restaurant is at 4041 N. 15th Ave. in Phoenix. It is open from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 11 a.m.-6:45 p.m. as well as Fridays to Saturdays from 11 a.m.-8:45 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

“The vibe is very tropical, very lively, music, salsa, good food, great conversations,” Carbajal said. “I’m very thankful for the fact that small businesses are being asked to be participants in this kind of event.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Balin Overstolz-McNair contributed to this report.

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Puerto Rican restaurant Phoenix Coqui takes advantage of opportunities ahead of Final Four