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Center for Great Neighborhoods marks official transfer of 302 W MLK Blvd to Olla Taqueria

The Center for Great Neighborhoods has made official the sale of the property located at 302 W MLK Blvd to tenant and Olla Taqueria Gutierrez restaurant owner Sergio Gutierrez, successfully concluding a project years in the making.

Olla owner Sergio Gutierrez, front, with members of his staff (Photo from CGN)

The Center purchased 302 W MLK Blvd as a vacant, blighted building, in 2015, viewing the space as an asset to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Corridor, and the Westside neighborhood of Covington. With the support of the Ed and JoAnn Hubert Family Foundation, Duke Energy, and individual donors, The Center purchased and began rehabbing the building with the intent of a commercial space on the first floor and an affordable studio apartment on the second floor.

While real estate development was underway, The Center began a partnership with the Kresge Foundation to fund our Freshlo Chef Fellowship program. The program recruited community members that were motivated to start their own food businesses and taught them the fundamentals of owning a business.

302 W MLK Blvd during renovations) (Photo from CGN)

Sergio Gutierrez was in the first cohort of the Chef Fellowship program, where he learned how to create a business plan, order and manage ingredients, price menu items, and ensure that health regulations are being followed. As the classes finished and the rehab neared completion, it was obvious that locating Olla in 302 W MLK was a good fit.

For the past three years, Olla has rented the first floor commercial space while building a successful business. With the support of the City of Covington’s Small Business Program, The Center was able to offer a subsidized rent rate for the first two years while the business was getting steady on its feet. Since then, Olla has become a community staple that not only serves delectable Mexican street food, but also serves as a hub for the community to gather, connect, and share the love for authentic food.

Gutierrez sees Olla as much more than just a neighborhood restaurant. He uses his business to give back to the community, whether it’s serving lunch to volunteers after a neighborhood cleanup, or hosting community events like the annual Lowrider Cruise In or the traditional Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebration.

302 W MLK Blvd following improvements (Photo from CGN)

“Sergio and Olla are a dream come true for us at The Center,” said Shannon Ratterman, eexecutive director of The Center for Great Neighborhoods. “All of our work centers around helping people discover their talents, find resources they need, and improve their lives in ways that also improve the community, and this project embodies all of those things. We were able to nurture Sergio’s goal of owning a restaurant, add our resources to help him get started, and now we get to make him a property owner and use our resources to focus on the next project!”

As a catalyst for positive change in Covington, The Center for Great Neighborhoods is invested in helping members of the community succeed.

“The Center for Great Neighborhoods programs changed my life,” Gutierrez said. “They helped me kickstart Olla fulfilling my dream of owning a business like my father. Forever grateful for their support.”

Center for Great Neighborhoods

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