Latina Dental Hygienist Revisits Entrepreneurship As Restaurateur
Latina entrepreneur steak

Maria Rubiano works nearly around the clock to support her restaurant and its staff


There are people who claim to be busy all the time, and then there’s Maria Rubiano, co-owner with husband Alan of the Gaucho Grill in White Plains, New York. From open until close six days a week (she takes Tuesdays off), 52 weeks a year, she’s actively involved in the front of the house, the back of the house and everywhere in between.

Not the first time as a restaurateur

This isn’t her first foray into the restaurant business. In her home country of Colombia, she had worked in her mother’s restaurant. She then opened her own at the age of 22 after coming to the U.S. in the late 1970s (she later helped her parents and siblings come to the States).

Weeks before Maria Rubiano left Colombia, with her uncle, best friend and two young cousins 

Maria always loved to entertain and make people happy

She then a second restaurant some years later and now the three-year-old Gaucho Grill. Amazingly, she started her first two establishments while working first as a dental technician and then a dental hygienist.

Maria roots are solid as a Latina entrepreneur. “I ran my first restaurant for about three years, but the owner of the building bought it so he could expand. I then focused on hygiene, and then there was an opportunity to open another restaurant in New Rochelle. I was doing both hygiene and running the restaurant for about 10 years. Then I said, ‘Oh, this is too much.’ So I sold that restaurant and got out of the business for 12 years or so,” Rubiano, who lives in New Rochelle, New York, recalls.

Time and Care

This wasn’t an easy decision to make, however. She loved both her hygienist work—having been in the field for 27 years—and being a restaurant owner. But after meeting her current husband, himself a former restaurateur, they discovered their mutual passion for the business and, as she jokingly puts it, “got sucked back in, even though my kids were telling me, ‘Mom, stop. This is too hard. It’s too much hard work after all you’ve done in your life.’ But I love it too much to stop.”

And her entrepreneurial care shows in both the time and care Rubiano puts into the Gaucho Grill, which bills itself as an Argentinean steakhouse.

One of Gauch Grill’s dining rooms

Although her chefs devised most of the menu, she’s had her own input there, including the Argentinean Paella. And she works closely with all of her staff, making sure they have the support needed to keep operations running smoothly and the restaurant’s customers happy.

Maria is personally involved in all facets of the menu 

“I’m very involved of course, but I have a responsibility of all the people who work for me. They have families. They have children. That is how I see my responsibility. It’s not just me. It’s also the dedicated people all around me. I think the restaurant has to do well and survive to help all of us,” Rubiano says.

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