Pepe Fierro has owned and operated Pepe’s Bistro for almost 20 years. Though famed in Lincoln for his delicious vegan meals, Pepe has become increasingly known for the impact he makes on his local community — the Everett neighborhood. Housed across the street from Everett Elementary School, Pepe has made it a primary goal of the restaurant to provide for the neighborhood’s children and the greater community. Through giving away free bikes or helping kids fix their own, creating a community garden for the neighborhood to enjoy fresh produce, or giving away goods like books, clothes and other supplies to members of the community or through his summer event series promoting local musicians.

AMA Lincoln partnered with Spectrum to provide local business owners of color the opportunity to apply for a free TV ad spot produced and paid for by Spectrum. We connected Pepe’s Bistro with the program and eventually he was selected for the opportunity. After the campaign, we had the chance to sit down and talk with Pepe about his experiences as a BIPOC business owner and Spectrum Reach award winner.


What did you think about the offering from Spectrum Reach to be part of their Pay It Forward program? 

Blown away, couldn’t believe it. I was skeptical about it at first, but it’s getting my name out there. 


What was the submission process like for you as a business owner?

To be honest, I was nervous but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It was a questionnaire that asked about my history and background and why I thought I deserved it. I said for me, the bistro is 50% community and 50% restaurant and they liked the story. A few weeks later, I got the call.


Tell us about what you’ve done to market your restaurant and how that strategy has evolved over time.

I’ve wanted to do simple, Mexican vegan food from the beginning. It took me awhile to get into that market and grab hold of it. I’ve really relied on social media marketing and word of mouth — since 2008 I’ve been sourcing from local farmers during harvest season and supporting local, small garden growing.


How has a focus on DEI&A impacted the Pepe’s Bistro community? How has it impacted Pepe’s Bistro’s business?

Business has been the same, and lots of diverse groups come here because they know they’re welcome. They feel like it’s a safe space that they’re not going to be judged at. People in the area know who I am and what I stand for and they’re still respectful of it.


What do you do to make sure you’re being inclusive at Pepe’s Bistro?

I made a community garden with tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for the neighborhood because it’s low income and there’s not much access to fresh produce. I heard about a student at Everett Elementary who was struggling in classes all over the place with ADHD who couldn’t stand still until art class. So I held a Second Friday show for him. I’ll watch the cameras and see the homeless community coming by the restaurant in the art bin outside with, I’ve seen artists come through late night.

What advice do you have for a business owner trying to implement DEI&A practices in their own operations?

Have an open mind. If you want the world to support you, you gotta support the world. If you don’t sit back and look at what’s going in the world, if you’re just trying to focus on one group, it’s not going to be able to support you as much as you want it to. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. When your cup is full, make sure you give some away.

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