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Real Food, Real Dedication Combine to Build a Strong Family Business

Paychex is proud to celebrate the success of Denica's Real Food Kitchen, a unique breakfast-and-lunch restaurant with four locations in California.

Small Business Week takes place April 30 – May 6, and Paychex is proud to celebrate small companies by sharing stories of success and inspiration.

“Whatever you dream, you can achieve,” says Denica Freitas, owner of Denica’s Real Food Kitchen, a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant with locations in Dublin, Livermore, Castro Valley, and Walnut Creek, Calif.

She and her husband, James, despite “being financially broke, with a bankruptcy behind us,” were motivated to open a restaurant and bakery together.

“It had been a lifelong dream for both of us,” Freitas says. “With the help of our family, friends, and a lot of grace, we were able to pull off this big dream. In 1999 we opened our first location. In those early days, it was me, my husband, and a dishwasher, with some help from my mom.”

As if that weren’t enough for the couple to handle, “About a year into it we found out we were expecting our son, Jimmy, which would make five kids for us. We spent a lot of the early years tag-teaming the business and the kids, working day after day with little time off to build our new company. We were and still are constantly asking the question, ‘How can we make it better?’” Freitas says.

Their hard work paid off. “After about 10 years, we had finally gotten to the point where we were making better hiring decisions, and had some amazing people working with us. That helped us take a breath and look at where we wanted to go next,” Freitas says.

The couple established sister restaurants in other suburbs, expanded to 80 staff members, and today Denica’s Real Food Kitchen serves more than 650,000 meals a year. They added a catering service and ship their popular cookies all over the United States.

“We made a lot of mistakes along the way, but have been blessed with much success,” Freitas says. Running the business is bigger to her and James than support for their family. “It means helping others along the way, employing and supporting many families, and making a difference in the lives of those we serve.”



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