Economics major Elvith Santoyo ’12 recently inherited her family’s Mexican restaurant, Acapulco, and plans to use her Knox education to improve the business.
“Although I appreciated my father’s hard work, I always thought there were better ways to run the business,” Santoyo said. “My sales have increased so much since I took over, and I think that’s because I’m so much more open-minded with my employees and my customers.”
Santoyo credits her open-mindedness to experiences in Knox courses. She worked full-time at Acapulco during her years as a student and lived off-campus but still managed to form lasting connections with professors in her departments: economics and business.
“Running my own business, I look back on those lectures in those classes. It’s not just learning from a book and you don’t just sit around and work through equations … we would conversate (sic) and talk about what everyone thinks,” Santoyo said of courses with Associate Professor of Economics Carol Scotton.
When she took over ownership this summer, Santoyo was overwhelmed by flowers and sentiments of congratulations and support from the people of Galesburg. She saw this as motivation to give back to her community.
“I want to grow my business so it can be an attraction for Galesburg, because we need booming businesses to help out the town,” she said. “Galesburg is made up of small businesses, and it’s nice to see that people support that. It’s nice to see that people are being successful.”
Besides general growth, Santoyo also hopes to one day find a new location for her business. Since she is currently leasing the location off North Henderson Street, there are a lot of renovations she would like to make but cannot currently do. She feels that a new location would also bring new customers to her restaurant.
“I want my restaurant to become more involved in the community,” she said.
Acapulco already sponsors Big Brothers Big Sisters, local sports teams and various community events. Santoyo would also like someday to be able to support a yearly Knox College scholarship as a way of giving back to her alma mater.
“When you give from the heart you always give back twice as much,” she said, echoing the phrase her mother taught her growing up.
Santoyo has paid for many of Acapulco’s recent renovations — carpeting and painting — out of her own pocket. She hopes to recruit Knox art majors to add some murals to the walls.
“That would bring a little of Knox to my business, because Knox got me to where I am,” Santoyo said.
The first generation college student, while happy with her current career, would eventually like to attend graduate school for economics and business.
Santoyo has lived in Monmouth and later Galesburg since age 5 when she emigrated from Mexico with her parents. Their hometown was Altamirona, a suburb of Acapulco, which is the restaurant’s namesake. Her parents opened it in 2006 and have since moved to Texas.
“It meant a lot to me that my father looked at me when he was thinking of passing on the business,” she said. “I’m glad he thought of me for this opportunity because I have so much to offer this restaurant.”