By David Sullivan
Director of Economic Development & Business Recruitment
Jessica Reyes always has a plan. She’s a social entrepreneur in the truest sense – taking business opportunities as they come and never saying no to something that will better her community.
In Main South, Reyes is widely recognized for her work as a restaurant owner, caterer, and the lead organizer of Worcester Families Feeding Families, a nonprofit dedicated to providing meals to neighbors in need. She most recently operated a restaurant and catering business, Un Toque Borikén, on Stafford Street before she was approached by the owners of Kokoriko’s Pizza & Chicken at 819 Main Street to start taking over ownership.
Reyes began managing the location in May, and now runs the restaurant with the help of her husband, two part-time employees, and four Worcester Public School students placed with her through the Worcester Community Action Council’s YouthWorks summer job program.
“I’m happy to be back in Main South, that’s for sure,” said Reyes. “I wanted something right in the middle of the community.”
Community means everything to Reyes, who somehow has had time in the past year to cook meals for the winter homeless shelter operated by Open Sky Community Services, prepare hundreds of culturally appropriate meals for seniors through Elder Services of Worcester Area, and now, prepare dozens of meals for children participating in the city’s Recreation Worcester program this summer. All on top of running Worcester Families Feeding Families, running her catering business, and managing a restaurant.
That’s not all. Reyes is looking to re-open Un Toque Borikén, which means “A Touch of Borikén”, the indigenous Taíno name for the island, as a fusion Puerto Rican restaurant and bakery. “There’s plans for another location coming soon, like real soon,” said Reyes. “And nearby, like really nearby!” she added with a laugh, noting she was working on something that would keep her in Main South.
Reyes was a longtime Food Hub shared kitchen member before finding her own location last year. She was a graduate of the Food Hub’s Launching Diverse Food Entrepreneurs class in 2022, a program funded by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation which allowed her to work with the Food Hub and the Chamber of Commerce to get all the necessary business and food safety certifications and permits to operate a business in the city. Through that program, she went to workshops, received a micro-grant, and did pop-up events that got Un Toque Borikén more publicity.
The next Launching Diverse Food Entrepreneurs in Worcester program will run next spring. Follow the Worcester Regional Food Hub on social media for updates on when applications are released.
Also keep an eye out for the announcement of Reyes’s new location by following Un Toque Borikén on Facebook. Kokoriko’s is also on Facebook and has a website with online ordering. Kokoriko’s can also be found on GrubHub, but Reyes says the best way to order is to call ahead at 508-459-1550. They are closed on Wednesdays, but open every other day from 11AM to 11PM, and on Sunday 2PM to 11PM.