MOONACHIE, N.J. — When Ariel Espejo was nine years old, he was selling pixie sticks and gum on the playground during recess at Lowell Elementary School in Teaneck.
At 14, he began working as a busboy at an Olive Garden in Paramus and then as a server at Burgerwood in Englewood.
After that he worked as a teller at a TD Bank, and also moonlighted as a DJ.
Throughout each job he saved his money, and the big payoff came April 22, when the 23-year-old opened "El Tango Argentina Grill" in Moonachie.
"I have always wanted to be my own boss," Espejo told Daily Voice. "So growing up everything I did, I had that goal in mind."
Espejo's parents moved to Teaneck from their native Argentina so Espejo and his brother David could grow up in a land with more opportunity.
Espejo said his restaurant is a way of paying them back for their sacrifice.
"They left all their family and friends behind so now I feel like I have the responsibility to make their trip worthwhile," Espejo said.
The young restaurateur also tries to incorporate his family in his business.
The entire menu at "El Tango" is pulled directly from his mother Ivana's cookbook. She trains every new chef how to cook her dishes before they start.
Espejo's brother David, 19, works as a server
"He basically runs this place when I am not here," Espejo said.
By having his family around him, Espejo hopes to create a family atmosphere.
"This place is designed to make people feel cozy and comfortable," Espejo said."When you are here I want my family to be your family."
While "El Tango" is the realization of a dream, Espejo said being a business owner at such a young age has its pitfalls.
"Sometimes I would much rather be at home playing video games," Espejo said. "But you need to change your goals to achieve your dreams."
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