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By Micaela Hood
Lehigh Valley News, September 13, 2023

... El Jefe's Taqueria of Bethlehem will receive a Milestone Award at the Greater Lehigh Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Sept. 15. ...

Another prominent business owner, John Schall, of El Jefe's Taqueria, will accept the Milestone Award at the gala.

"One thing that interested us was that 20% of El Jefe's Taqueria [stakeholders] are Latino," Suero [AJ Suero, chair of the Greater Lehigh Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce] said. "We were also impressed with their out-of-the-box thinking during COVID and willingness to stay open during the pandemic for essential workers and students."

Schall, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, opened the second location of his Mexican-inspired eatery in 2018 after his friend, former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, connected him to Peron Development. ...

A majority of his staff had started off as hourly employees according to Schall, who previously owned another restaurant in Cambridge.

"The executive chef, Fidencio Saavedra at El Jefe's is Mexican-American and has been with me for 17 years," Schall said.

Now in charge of creating a menu for the eight chains, Saavedra's family recipes are a vital part of what makes the food chain successful.

"Jon Eller is from Brazil and got his start as a dishwasher. I have known him since he was 17. He's now the operations director and owns a significant part of the company," Schall said.

"And twin brothers, from the Dominican Republic Fernando and Cesario Sanchez, have worked with me since 1997 and have moved up to managerial roles."

Schall tends to treat his staff like family and that means being an advocate for their rights [and for raising the minimum wage]. ...

“It’s just part of being a decent human being. It’s also a crucial part of a successful business model,” he told in a previous report. "There are restaurants now that aren’t open because they say they can’t find staff. I haven’t closed for an hour because I can’t find staff. It’s absolutely the case that paying a living wage is a crucial part of the success of El Jefe’s.” ...

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