June 3, 2024 • Pride5 min read

Pride 2024: Celebrating Every Flavour - Arepa & Co | Just Eat for Business

We took the time to chat with Ernesto Moreno, founder of Arepa & Co, a proudly LGBTQ+ owned Restaurant Partner on the Just Eat for Business platform.

Tell us about yourself and Arepa & Co!

Arepa & Co was born out of the desire to bring Venezuelan food to London! We are a team of three Venezuelan entrepreneurs that are passionate about our food and our South American roots. From the beginning when we started with a stall in Camden Market, we made it our mission to put Venezuela and Venezuelan food in the hearts and minds of Londoners. We now have three restaurants, with our fourth opening soon in Elephant Park, an area that is not only a heart for the South American community, but more recently also a home for the LGBTQ+ community. 

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Left: Ernesto & his two business partners. Right: Team Arepa & Co


What does Pride mean to you, and how do you celebrate Pride? 

Pride is a celebration of how far we’ve come to accept and embrace diversity and celebrate who we are. It is beautiful to see how far we have come to move away from judgment, prejudice and injustice. Pride is also a reminder that we are all equal and that we all have the right to love whoever we want and to be who we are, without fear. Pride is about celebrating our uniqueness and enjoying the freedom to be ourselves.

Whilst for most people Pride is a known celebration at the end of June, we celebrate pride all year round. Not by throwing a party and decorating our restaurants, but by welcoming and celebrating everyone that wants to join our team or visit our restaurants. We really value the diversity in our teams and communities, and it fills us with joy and pride when we see the safe environment we have managed to create. In June in particular, we join forces with the community, decorate our restaurants and run our Pride Brunch events. 

How can companies create inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ employees?

First and foremost, by establishing clear values of respect and inclusion. The team knows that this is important to us and this is something we will stand for, protect and defend. Secondly, by creating an environment where people feel they are safe to be themselves, free of judgement and discrimination and that serious actions would be taken if that was to take place and finally, by educating people about the different perspectives, lifestyles, cultures and walks of life that we have in the team and celebrating them.

How can people be the best allies for the LGBTQ+ community, both in and outside of the workplace?

For us this is simple: Stand up for the community whenever you see bigotry, judgment and injustice and help to educate those who still don’t understand the value and beauty of diversity, freedom, respect and equality. Talk proudly about your LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues.

Do you have advice for other LGBTQ+ people that want to start their own company?

Thankfully, in today’s world, being part of the LGBTQ+ community does not represent a disadvantage when it comes to starting up a company. I would even argue that could be a great differentiating factor! The community is also very supportive of LGBTQ+ businesses and that should encourage you to go ahead with your plans. Being part of that community has given us an open and inclusive perspective of the world and it also offers you a different perspective of the markets, partners and your customer base.

A lot has already been done to make workplaces more inclusive, but there’s still a long way to go. Are there any specific changes you would like to see? 

I’d like to see workplaces making a conscious effort to create even more awareness about all different aspects of the LGBTQ+ community but also about other minority and culturally diverse groups. The work is probably not so much now about acceptance of diversity but about true integration, inclusion and belonging.

Someone once said: “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being invited to dance and belonging is being able to dance like nobody is watching”. I dream of a world where we all can dance together like nobody is watching.

Are there any organisations, charities or groups that you would recommend getting involved in?

Stonewall has been doing fantastic work over a number of years now, and London Friend is also supporting a very noble cause!