For Ana Rivera, owner of La Colombiana restaurant in Beavercreek, family is the main ingredient to a successful meal as well as for business. 

“I followed the family over,” Rivera says. 

She has been in the country for 25 years, but has neither lost touch with her cultural roots nor sight of the importance of family.

Rivera says that her parents, as well as her aunts and uncles, pitched in to finance her dream of creating an authentic, Colombian eatery. Holding true to her ancestral origins, Rivera employs her immediate family. Her children, husband, one of her two brothers and his wife help out in the restaurant. 

Her son is a waiter at La Colombiana, and she says her husband can often be found changing the cooking oils or helping her close at night. But when it comes to cooking and running a kitchen, Rivera is comfortable being in charge. According to her, women in Colombia are proud homemakers and are often responsible for maintaining the home and children. Yet, she admits that balancing independence and family can be difficult for the modern woman, so having her family work alongside her is important. 

She says that earning an income takes a backseat to authenticity and freshness, though. Serving fresh, made-to-order food is important to Rivera and reflects her cultural belief in offering substance with meals. Serving premade, frozen food is not an option. 

“Many houses [in Colombia] don’t have microwaves,” Rivera says. “Everything is from the pan to the plate.”

Rivera says that it is important to her that people understand not all Hispanic food is prepared the way Colombian food is.

“We don’t [generally] eat hot food,” she explains. “Ours is comfort food.”

The restaurant offers vegetarian options and Rivera says that 90 percent of La Colombiana’s food is gluten free. 

Inside the restaurant hangs artwork and photographs that depict the inventive and nature-loving culture of Colombia. If that’s not enough, Rivera will happily show you photos of her own family. “I don’t think my daughter is coming back,” she laughs as she flashes photos of her offspring enjoying homemade food on Colombian streets. Rivera says that she too is proud of the genuine happiness that Colombians maintain despite not having a lot of money.

“I just want people to recognize that Colombia has a rich, colorful culture,” Rivera says.

When it comes to what she hopes is most memorable about the restaurant, Rivera says “You will know the food was prepared with love here.” Lunch Tu-Su 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Dinner Tu-Th 3-9 p.m., F-Sa 3-10 p.m., Su 3-6 p.m. 2495 Commons Blvd., Beavercreek. 937-306, 8096, lacolombiana.us.