JERSEY CITY, NJ -- Stephanie Willoughby spoke with Lizeth Morales, Owner of El Gordo Restaurant in Jersey City, to learn about her experiences navigating the pandemic as a small business owner. Morales and El Gordo participated in an upcoming episode of TAPintoTV's original series HomeGrown, filmed just before the COVID-19 outbreak. 

El Gordo, which serves Peruvian cuisine, is currently open for online ordering and delivery, but in the early days of the pandemic, Morales was “trying out how to stay positive and how to readjust the business,” she said, while keeping in mind both the needs of her employees and her customers. “My employees depend on me--this is how they support their families,” said Morales. 

If you’re a small business owner, it’s not like you have a lawyer on call or a PR team,” said Morales, “you’re really just figuring it out yourself.” 

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After feeling dejected about her own woes, Morales said she spoke to a cousin who works at Hackensack University Medical Center. Hearing about her cousin’s harrowing experiences in the ER put things into perspective for Morales. She was motivated to team up with local organizations and other small business owners in Jersey City to donate meals to health care workers. 

As a small business owner, times like these can be especially challenging, but Morales said the connections to her customers, her employees and the community are very valuable to her. “A small business, to me, represents family,” she said. 

Visit El Gordo online at