It all began with a class assignment that required students to write about their future goals.
Imena, a seventh-grader, wrote, “To run my mother’s cafe.”
While cleaning the house, Aida Villegas discovered her daughter’s homework assignment and immediately called her eldest child. She stated, “She wants to take over the cafe.”
“What cafe?” asked Catalina.
Since she was 2 years old, Imena had heard her mother discuss her desire to open a cafe. The fact that the cafe existed at the time only as a collection of loose leaf papers and plans written in a black notebook appeared to be irrelevant.
Villegas had been jotting down ideas for a small Caribbean restaurant for 15 years, but she wanted to take “baby steps” and open a cafe first to determine whether she could expand the business.
The 42-year-old had recently earned a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial and small business operations from the University of Phoenix, and in the same year, her oldest daughter, Catalina, graduated from high school. She recalls wondering, “When will you stop being afraid?”
Fear had prevented her from pursuing the idea until that day in 2019, when she decided to take the plunge.
On June 22, Aida Villegas displays a tattoo on her finger. At Cicter’s Cafe in Buckeye, Villegas stated, “These are the initials of my daughters, so I’ve promised them that no man will ever again come before them.”
Cicter’s Cafe — a name inspired by the initials of her daughters — opened on Juneteenth, 2020, between two auto shops off Miller Road in Buckeye.
Her three daughters are constantly by her side as she manages the company. Catalina, 20, runs social media. Imena, age 16, is an artist. And Carolyn, age 10, is the CEO of the future.
“I literally tell them they’re in charge,” she said, adding that she intends to pass on the cafe to her daughters one day. Regardless of how bleak the world is, they have a future.
She stated that Juneteenth was an ideal day for the family’s grand opening.
She stated, “We are an Afro-Latina business.” “We are the dream that our ancestors would have desired for us”