While many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, some organizations have stepped up to help those in need. Comcast, which is the parent company of NBC 6, has offered thousands of dollars to minority owned businesses through their Comcast RISE grant initiative.
One of the lucky award recipients are the Verdugo brothers, who are pouring up good vibes and cider at Broski Ciderworks in Pompano Beach.
David and Daniel Verdugo first started off brewing beer at home back in 2013, but then they stumbled upon the world of cider by accident.
“I went to a bar and they gave me a drink. I ordered a beer and they gave me a cider. I tried it and I was hooked,” said David Verdugo, president and co-founder of Broski Ciderworks.
With David’s mathematical engineer background and Daniel’s distributor skills in the alcohol industry, their cidery dreams started to get off the ground.
“At that point a little light bulb flashed in my mind and we said, you know what, there’s no local cidery in South Florida, let’s try to see if we can make this a project,” Verdugo said.
The Verdugo brothers learned the cider craft in upstate New York and started sending their samples back home. People loved their concoctions and they quickly started winning awards.
“We took the leap of faith to start Broski Ciderworks in 2015, to be the first craft cidery local to South Florida and we opened our doors in 2016,” Verdugo said.
Then 2020 soured some of their plans.
“Our business was greatly affected by COVID and the pandemic,” Verdugo said.
Yet their struggles didn’t last long after they were the recipients of a Comcast RISE grant.
“What the Comcast RISE program did was give us an opportunity to look forward and look ahead and try to give us the resources to be able to grow our business in the future,” Verdugo said.
Through the initiative, Comcast has awarded 100 South Florida minority-owned small businesses with $10K in grants.
For the Verdugo brothers, the funds have helped boost their business by expanding their distribution and growing their online presence.
The pair, who are originally from Ecuador, have also been able to tap into their roots by using native tropical fruits in their recipes.
“We can’t grow apples here in Florida, but what we did is we took the culture and the background of all the people that live here in South Florida and focused on creating a cider that is true to Florida and Latin America and the Caribbean,” Verdugo said.
Their success now includes winning the grand national championship at the U.S. Cider Open in 2021.
Staring on Jan. 16, the Comcast RISE program will be expanding eligibility to include all women-owned small businesses regardless of race or ethnicity. More information on the program can be found here: https://www.comcastrise.com