Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Claudia Romero

Pega Grill

Miami, FL

“I couldn’t have done this without the Ascendus loan. Every time I meet a small business owner, I tell them to visit Ascendus.”

Staying Open Through a Community


Claudia and her husband already owned a Spanish-style restaurant in Coral Gables when they heard about a new restaurant opportunity in downtown Miami. “We weren’t looking to buy another restaurant, but we had a remarkably close relationship with our staff. They looked out for us and wanted us to have a good opportunity. They were working at Pega Grill when they introduced us to the owner.” Through encouragement from their workers, they decided to invest in purchasing Pega Grill. “At our first restaurant we opened it from scratch, and we made a lot of mistakes, but we learned how to make it successful. This is how I knew I could make Pega Grill successful.”


Claudia bought the restaurant at the end of 2019 and made it her own. “I transformed it, and it became my restaurant, not my husband’s.” Claudia survived the pandemic but was soon hit with another challenge. “They decided to do construction on the road, and the entire street was subject to closures. I didn’t know how many years this would last. Most of our customers were walk-ins, or those from nearby courthouses and businesses. With people working from home more often and no visibility of our restaurant from the street, we were losing business left and right.”

Claudia couldn’t shut down her doors because she had bills to pay, and she didn’t want to damage her credit by missing too many payments. She didn’t want to let go of her staff because she cared for them, and they trusted her with their employment. “I almost went bankrupt; I couldn’t pay my employees, my rent, my bills, and I couldn’t buy inventory. That is when the Ascendus loan came in.” Claudia used her loan to pay her debts and invest in inventory to keep her restaurant running. “I brought back all my employees, who I had to furlough. They believed in me and taught me everything about how to run Pega Grill. They are like my family. They said, ‘Thank you, Claudia, for keeping your doors open.’ I am so happy that I could continue providing jobs for those who stuck by me.”


Since the loan and the reconstruction of downtown Miami, Claudia has seen a huge influx of new clients. “When you run a small mom-and-pop shop, your clients and your employees know you more than they know what your restaurant is about. They stick by because they believe in you, and I am so grateful for them. Since I opened, no one has quit, and this is rare for the restaurant industry. I couldn’t have done this without the Ascendus loan. Every time I meet a small business owner, I tell them to visit Ascendus.”

To learn more about Claudia, visit:

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