HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Nearly three weeks ago a Holyoke woman fulfilled her lifelong dream and opened up an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant.

22News spoke to this new entrepreneur about her inspiring story and why she wants to give back to the community. Cristina Lopez worked a medical job for a couple of decades until she was diagnosed with liver disease. Instead of staying in bed when her doctors said she had a year to live, she decided to fight her disease and start this family restaurant that is now wildly popular.

The restaurant is El Chinchorro Boricua is located at 187 South St. in Holyoke and while it’s only three weeks old, there’s a constant flow of people coming in to not only support Lopez but enjoy the tasty food.

Lopez opened the restaurant with her son and daughter and is now serving her great-great grandparent’s authentic food to a seemingly never-ending line of hungry patrons. For Lopez, seeing all of the support makes her stronger and motivates her to fight harder and give back more.

“The line was out the door. I had to go outside and I literally got so emotional because the love from Holyoke I have gotten is unbelievable. I think I’m more alive now than I was before with liver disease. The Holyoke community has been amazing! Holyoke needs love and Holyoke needs places where families can come to eat,” Cristina Lopez, owner of El Chinchorro Boricua told 22News.

Lopez is now on the liver transplant list and waiting to receive a new liver as she works every day to feed Holyoke with affordable food and friendly service.

Local News

Heath Kalb is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Heath on X @HeathKalb and view his bio to see more of his work.