FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Cuban eatery in Fort Collins is struggling to keep its doors open after one of its owners received a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Bringing a taste of Cuba to Colorado was what inspired Frank Jimenez and his wife, Rosa, to try their luck in the food industry and open up Babalu's Cuban Café.
"I was looking for something that would be a little bit more unique, and it would still be Latin. And we love Cuban food. So that's why we decided to go with Cuban," said Rosa, who is the primary chef and baker.
The couple started out six years ago with a food truck that Frank and his son built together.
"We came across an empty aluminum shell truck. It took us about a year and a half to build it on our time off and whenever the funds were available to equip it. And we finally got it done," said Frank.
The couple eventually expanded to an eatery inside the Oak Street Mall in Fort Collins, which has been open for about four years.
Frank said the food truck has not been operational for a while because of mechanical issues. Their restaurant is the only business open at the moment, which the couple runs on their own.
"This is what we live off. This is our income. And we just we love serving people. We love what we do," said Frank.
Recently, Frank has had to take over all of the work after Rosa was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer last year.
"Right now I'm going through radiation, and it's really wearing me out. But I, you know, I'm hoping it all works out. And we can get through this, go back, do what we need to do," Rosa said.
There have been days when they've had to close down the business so Frank can take Rosa to her doctor's appointments.
"When she first got sick and we realized, you know, the devastation of the how severe it really was, first thing she told me was, 'Whatever you do, don't give up,'" said Frank, while fighting back tears.
"We don't want to close because it's something that I feel like we could offer everybody here in Fort Collins the diversity of different foods," added Rosa.