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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Mirna Garcia & Maryury Rodriguez


Mi Tierra

Business partners Mirna Lissette Garcia and Maryury Rodriguez opened Mi Tierra Restaurant on Memphis’ Summer Avenue in October of 2003. Mirna Garcia was born in Guatemala City on November 17, 1964 and Maryury Rodriguez was born in Colombia on August 29, 1959. Mirna migrated to Chicago when she was fourteen years old and in 1995 decided to move to Memphis with her son. Maryury spent thirteen years living in Chicago before moving to Memphis, where she has lived for the past seventeen years. Mirna was a pre-school teacher in Illinois with no experience in the restaurant industry. After moving to Memphis, however, she found employment in one of the first Mexican restaurants opening in Memphis where she learned everything she knows, from dishwashing to cooking. Maryury’s brother is the owner of a restaurant in Chicago, and helped the two women get their business started as they strive to “give Memphis a little of Colombia,” and preserve the culture. They later diversified their menu and added Mexican cuisine since their customers were not familiar with Colombian food. Their unique vision transformed the interior of the building to replicate the houses that can be found in Colombia. After 10pm the lights of the restaurant go down and the music of Latin America pulsates through the restaurant as customers enjoy the sounds of cumbia, salsa, merengue and reggaeton.

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Las compañeras de negocios Mirna Lissette García y Maryury Rodríguez abrieron el restaurante Mi Tierra en la avenida Summer de Memphis en octubre de 2003. Mirna García nació en la ciudad de Guatemala el 17 de noviembre de 1964 y Maryury Rodríguez nació en Colombia el 29 de agosto de 1959. Mirna emigró a Chicago cuando tenía catorce años y en 1995 decidió mudarse a Memphis con su hijo. Maryury pasó trece años viviendo en Chicago antes de trasladarse a Memphis, donde ha vivido durante los últimos diecisiete años. Mirna era una maestra de preescolar en Illinois sin experiencia en la industria de restaurantes. Sin embargo, después de trasladarse a Memphis encontró empleo en uno de los primeros restaurantes mexicanos que se abrieron en Memphis, donde aprendió todo lo que sabe, desde lavar platos hasta cocinar. El hermano de Maryury es dueño de un restaurante en Chicago, y ayudó a las dos mujeres a comenzar su negocio mientras se esforzaban por “dar a Memphis un poco de Colombia”, y preservar la cultura. Posteriormente diversificaron su menú y agregaron cocina mexicana ya que sus clientes no estaban familiarizados con la comida colombiana. Su visión única transformó el interior del edificio a una réplica de las casas que se encuentran en Colombia. Después de las 10pm las luces del restaurante bajan y la música de Latinoamérica pulsa a través del restaurante mientras los clientes disfrutan de los sonidos de cumbia, salsa, merengue y reggaeton.

Date of interview:
2017-06-05

Interviewer:
Simone Delerme

Photographer:
Brittany Brown & Simone Delerme

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