Newman University senior athlete is also a successful entrepreneur

May 05, 2016
Arianna Raga

Newman senior and tennis player Arianna Raga has more to her title than student-athlete. She is also the owner of Brickhouse Grill, a restaurant in Bethany, Kan., that recently reopened.

Raga, along with her brother Manuel Raga, purchased and reopened Brickhouse Grill on April 7 after it had closed under previous management.

Raga, who is from Venezuela, said her family has always had a passion for cooking.

“My uncle owned a restaurant in Florida and my stepdad really likes cooking and my mom does too,” Raga said. “We pretty much cook all the time at home, so it was kind of something that we always wanted to do if we had the chance to get into the restaurant industry.”

 Senior Ariana Raga. Courtesy picture.
Senior Ariana Raga

Raga and her brother, who is also a collegiate tennis player at Bethany College, run the restaurant together.

“My brother worked there for a little less than a year before it closed, so he was familiar with everything they did at the restaurant before and it was something that he likes,” she said. “He saw how well the restaurant was doing, but the problem was the previous owner was just not administrating it well.”

Raga said they made changes to the way the business was run, set different hours and added a few Venezuelan items to the previous menu.

“Arepas are super popular – everybody eats them in my country,” Raga said. “It’s sort of a sandwich type of thing, made out of precooked corn meal and you make it into a circle and open it and put the rest of the ingredients in.”

Raga said that the restaurant is fun, but the responsibility of owning a business at the age of 23 has been challenging at times.

“It’s super hard for me to go to class, get out of practice and drive up there an hour, work until 10 p.m. and then come back,” she said. “It’s been hard and every time I have a break I try to go there. When we didn’t have tournaments, I was there on the weekends, but I haven’t been there as much. Thankfully, I’ve had my brother helping out all the time because he lives there.”

The two siblings also receive help from their stepfather, who is the head chef at the Brickhouse Grill.

Raga said the restaurant industry has been a good fit for her family so far because it ties in well with their upbringing.

“For Venezuelans, it’s just something that you grow up learning,” she said. “Cooking is essential, even if you are a boy or girl, you need to cook because unlike Americans, we hardly ever eat out. So, we learned to cook.”