Neil Pacheco uses social media to tell Sonoma County 'What's Cookin'
Neil Emerson Pacheco is using social media to spread the word. “Latinos love social media,” he said.
Each week, he hosts informative guest speakers to talk about local resources on his La Morenita FM show, “What’s Cookin’ Sonoma County?” The popular show highlights local Latino businesses in Spanish. “I go in with my team, we take video, we take pictures and we upload it to our social media page.”
Miguel Brito, general sales manager for Hansel Honda says the social media presence Pacheco has created for them is a win-win situation. Pacheco informs Latinos of important things to know before purchasing a car as well as the best deals to be found at Hansel Honda.
Pacheco also mentors local businesses. “I help them with social media marketing,” he explained. “How to teach their employees about upselling, customer retention and a great first impression.” North Bay Business Journal last year honored Pacheco with their 2018 Latino Business Leadership Award.
Things are good, but the journey wasn’t an easy one: Pacheco remembers helping out in his mother’s little Oaxacan grocery store and the kitchen where she prepared dishes like tamales pozole and barbacoa to sell. Pacheco said his mother would tell him, “Mijo, you’re born in the United States, you’re born in Texas, you have citizenship in both countries.” His family had moved to Mexico when he was 2. He knew the United States was a place with more opportunity, for work and for an education. He knew he’d go back some day.
Pacheco returned to the U.S. as a teenager in 1994, moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to live with his father. He’d grown up being taught to dress formally, to keep his hair trimmed neatly, his shirt always tucked in. He was just over 5 feet tall and he barely spoke English. He stood out among his inner-city high school peers and was bullied for it, but he didn’t give up. He wanted an education.
“My parents taught me that when you start a job, you don’t walk away until you finish,” Pacheco said. He got a part-time job washing dishes in a restaurant when he was 15. He remembers feeling overwhelmed on a short-staffed busy weekend, almost driven to tears, as he looked at huge stacks of dirty dishes and everyone else done and ready to go home. The cooks and other workers then surprised him by staying, donning aprons and jumping in to help him finish his work. He said it was an uplifting moment, giving him hope and inspiring him to persevere. The moment also shaped how he would later give back to his community, helping businesses simply because he could see they needed it.
“I knew I wanted to be in the front of the house,” said Pacheco of his budding restaurant career. “I earned my way up and I learned a lot.” He worked hard, getting promoted through the back of the house, making his way to the front, and eventually becoming manager.
Pacheco’s dreams continued to come true as he fell in love. In 2004, he followed his wife, Graciela, to Sonoma County where they are raising their three children.
He moved here for his wife, but it didn’t take Pacheco long to fall in love with Sonoma County and its Latino community. He has embraced the opportunities he’s found here, working, studying, teaching, mentoring and continually volunteering his time. His studies, work and life experience have given him the tools to uplift his community, and he’s doing so, one business at a time.