Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Juan Manuel Barrientos, Owner of Elcielo Hospitality Group, located in Washington, D.C., USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Hospitality group focused on creating luxury experiences with 15 years of experience. Our restaurants, Elcielo (Washington DC, Miami with a Michelin Star, Bogotá, and Medellín), offer a modernistic Colombian cuisine based on local products, serve tasting menus (long course meals), creating multisensorial and gastronomic experiences. Our customers are local people that celebrate their special occasions with us and travelers or foodies from around the world.

Tell us about yourself

I was born in Medellín on June 16, 1983. I am a father, cook, businessman, entrepreneur, lecturer, and peace leader with more than thirteen restaurants, bars, and a hotel. I am the creator and founder of Elcielo Restaurants in Medellín, Bogotá, Miami, and Washington, D.C., Elcielo luxury boutique hotel in Medellín, as well as other prominent eateries and bars such as La sere, Cuon, Kaime, Elcielo Classic, Aguafresca, Shibari Bar, El Navegante Bar and Syrenka Bar, all in Medellín and AO in Bogotá.

I studied at Colegiatura Colombiana in Medellín, and at Mariano Moreno in Buenos Aires. I started my career in 2005 alongside renowned chefs such as Iwao Komiyama (Argentina) and Juan Mari Arzak (Spain). In 2018, I published my first and best-selling book, "The Recipe for Success," outlining my culinary experiences and the steps I took to find business and personal success. I am motivated by my passion for creativity. I enjoy my job so much that I feel like I'm enjoying a hobby. I like excellence and bringing joy to customers with our excellent service.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

On April 22, 2021, my team and I won the first Colombian Michelin Star in history. Elcielo Washington D.C. was the first Colombian restaurant worldwide to be part of this marvelous list. In 2022 Elcielo Miami won a Michelin Star too, and now I am the owner of two restaurants with a Michelin Star.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Working so hard that you sacrifice your personal life. That's why I work as a family, my company is also my family. Assume the losses, constantly recreate to remain special within the market. Ensuring the retention of top talent is crucial for businesses, as losing them can result in significant losses that are challenging to quantify. Therefore, it is important to hire strategically to avoid such talent drain.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Do everything with passion, live each day as if it were your last, be creative, and do not be afraid to innovate. Be unrealistic when dreaming but realistic when executing dreams. Verification is the key to success.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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