In 1972 the now CEO of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber, Michel Zajur, opened one of the first Mexican Cuisine Family restaurants “La Siesta” in the Greater Richmond Area’s Southside. Virginia families delighted in their first glimpses of the Hispanic culture and its passion for food, family, celebration, and ingenuity. Many area residents respond to the restaurant’s mention with smiles when they reflect on trips to the kitchen as children to see how fried ice cream was made. It is said in Latin American culture that food is best prepared with love. Local families left with full bellies and warm impressions about this newly emerging community in their area.
Michel and his wife Lisa Zajur quickly identified the benefits of educating local children about learning Spanish as a second language through a colorful and interactive program they coined “La Siesta Town”. Students from counties throughout Virginia were bussed to the restaurant where they took “airplane” rides through Latin America experiencing dance, language, and culture.
As La Siesta was becoming a cultural information station in the community, it was also growing into an active hub for area Latinos to convene and discuss matters facing their expanding community. Issues such as language barriers, employment and education were repeated themes in discussions. A need was rapidly developing bringing about the birth of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber and Foundation.
Today, the Virginia Hispanic Foundation (VHF) continues to provide knowledge and resources to help the Hispanic community develop businesses, access employment, connect with legal services and promote the potential of educating Virginia’s workforce of tomorrow.
Our programs aim to strengthen the minority business sector and ultimately aid economic growth in the state of Virginia. This venture is not only relevant to Hispanic businesses but also to our corporate partners like yourself who wish to demonstrate a diverse and inclusive employee profile. VHF believes that focusing on the future will lead its clients to invest in the community and further strengthen the local economy; while integrating into the general population.