Helping a Local Latino-Owned Business in Phoenix Keep its Doors Open

Senator Mark Kelly
4 min readNov 9, 2021


ET Rivera and Magaly Saenz welcome Senator Kelly to Tres Leches Café

Behind every small business, there’s a story. For Phoenix’s Tres Leches Café, it all started in 2014. That’s the year Phoenix resident José “ET” Rivera decided he was going to open up his own coffee shop.

His vision was to create a café that could compete with the well-established chains in the Valley. And it wasn’t going to just be any coffee shop. His coffee shop was going to specialize in Mexican dessert lattes.

I’ve visited a few times, and trust me, their lattes are delicious. I recently had the opportunity to enjoy one myself!

Senator Kelly enjoys one of Tres Leches Café signature drinks on October 8, 2021.

ET also wanted his business to have a positive impact on the community. He often allows local nonprofits and Latino organizers in need of a meeting spot to use his café space. Plenty of lattes and pastries are donated to these groups as well. Additionally, Tres Leches offers other local Hispanic small businesses the opportunity to showcase their goods within the café.

Simply put, it’s not hard to see why the café that the Phoenix New Times dubbed as the “Mexican Starbucks of your dreams” quickly became a beloved neighborhood favorite. ET and his partner, Magaly, ran the business together. Things were going well.

Then the pandemic hit in early 2020.

It goes without saying that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on Arizona’s small businesses. Too many had to close their doors because they simply couldn’t make ends meet as our economy struggled. That also led to folks losing their jobs.

Tres Leches Café almost became one of those shuttered businesses. Just a few short months ago, they were on the verge of closing permanently. ET and Magaly realized the cafe’s decreased income during the pandemic wasn’t going to sustain them much longer.

There’s federal assistance available to businesses that have suffered during the pandemic to help them stay open and keep employees on the payroll. I’ve voted to pass two COVID relief packages that included significant funding for small business relief. Knowing this, ET and Magaly applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

But in the case of Tres Leches Café, bureaucracy was getting in the way. They were facing lengthy delays with getting their SBA loan approved — a loan they desperately needed to stay open.

Quickly exhausting all other available options, they decided to get in touch with my office. After receiving all the details, my casework team quickly snapped into action. We reached out to the SBA on behalf of Tres Leches Café right away. We wanted to make sure their loan application didn’t fall through the cracks.

Not long after our office’s intervention, Tres Leches Café received some long-awaited good news from the SBA.

They were approved for the maximum loan total of $500,000 with an additional final modification in processing that would bring their total to $1.3 million.

Today, I’m pleased to say that Tres Leches Café is open for business — and still serving up amazing drinks and pastries to those who walk through their doors.

Senator Kelly and ET talking in Tres Leches Café’s kitchen.

“We can continue our dream of having this business, creating more opportunities for our employees, and making a change for our community, and continuing to support the community that supports us,” said Magaly Saenz of Tres Leches Café in an interview with Telemundo Arizona about the loan our office helped secure.

After being on the brink of closure, I was excited to visit the café again and see for myself how much this business staying open means to the local community. Being able to help hard-working Arizonans get ahead is why I ran for the Senate in the first place. My team and I will continue working tirelessly to help small businesses across Arizona and the communities they serve recover from this pandemic.

Remember that my office is here to help. When we hear about challenges like the one Tres Leches Café was facing, we work to cut through the red tape to get answers.

For any Arizonan out there who needs assistance with a federal agency, please reach out to us by visiting

-Senator Mark Kelly

Senator Kelly in the café with ET Rivera and Magaly Saenz.



Senator Mark Kelly

United States Senator for Arizona. Father, husband, Navy combat veteran, and retired NASA astronaut.