John Lennon once said “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”

Erika Del Rio - Las Olas ExecutiveDirectorI arrived in Fort Lauderdale as a stop on my way to Italy to study art. I ventured to Las Olas and from the first moment of arrival I met amazing people. I was wowed by the quaintness of the Boulevard. I enjoyed meeting new people, exploring the diverse menus, and admiring the local art and shops that the Boulevard provided. I was overwhelmed by the openness that I received from everyone and was overjoyed to stay here longer.

What I was most in awe of, was how Las Olas reminded me of my childhood. I grew up just outside of Leon Guanajuanto, Mexico – a town built in the 1500’s that has a similar architecture to the historic buildings in Las Olas. One of my fondest memories is gathering in the city center for Cervantino Festival which featured live music, dancing, community togetherness, and fun. Christmas on Las Olas depicts these memories so vividly that I felt at home again. I found a job on the beach and my future blossomed from there.

In 2012, I was promoted to General Manager of Gran Forno Pronto. My team and I transformed it from a small cafe to a successful restaurant that people came to Las Olas specifically to enjoy. I also took over the catering business for all three locations and we grew it tenfold Gran Forno Bakery, Cafe Del Mar & Gran Forno Pronto). Running the catering business brought me great joy and I truly enjoyed being part of my customer’s special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, graduations, corporate events and more. Managing Gran Forno Pronto for so many years has taught me many valuable lessons and strategies to transform business on Las Olas Boulevard.

I want to tell you a personal story of an experience that just occurred earlier this January. I attended the ribbon-cutting for The Friendship Cafe. As an ADA advocate, I was touched and inspired at how genuine the purpose of their mission is by giving jobs to people with disabilities. I will continue to work with the city to improve ADA accessibility on Las Olas.  As my good friend, Jerrod Kerr says “let’s make a world that works for everyone, where no one is left out.”

I have spent many years on Las Olas and in this new decade, I am dedicated to the goal of providing our beloved locals with an exciting place to be and making Las Olas a destination for people from all over the world to come to celebrate and enjoy.

We are setting ourselves up for success, we are reaching for the stars and this team is my home! I am grateful and honored to be the new Executive Director of the Las Olas Association. See you on Las Olas!