This couple risked almost everything to make their restaurant dream come true, and it paid off in the end.

According to CNBC’s “Make It,” James and Johanna Windon only had $18 to their name after using their savings to launch Buena Papa in July 2021.

Bringing In The Big Bucks

Today, the couple shares that they bring in millions of dollars in annual revenue across all three of their restaurants located in North Carolina, despite having no previous experience managing and operating a business within the culinary industry.

After having to shut down their cleaning business during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Windons returned to square one, trying to come up with an alternative way to make ends meet.

This time, however, the goal was to incorporate some of Johanna’s Colombian roots through flavors of Latin street food.

“Our first year, we did $1.1 million,” James recalled about the start of Buena Papa, which was founded using $40,000 — most of the couple’s life savings.

“We took all the profits from that and invested it in [our second] store… Combined, this year, we’re going to finish at about $2 million,” James continued.

The Journey To Expansion

During a recent appearance on “Shark Tank,” the Windons asked the panel of investors for $400,000 “in exchange for a 7% equity stake in their business.”

While they have already sold franchising rights for four new locations, they wanted to use the “Shark Tank” investment money to expand their own locations, opening one store per year over the next five years.

Ultimately, the couple landed the investment they were seeking from millionaire Robert Herjavec. However, he wanted 20% of Buena Papa. Although the Windons attempted to counter-offer with 15% ownership, Herjavec’s final offer only went down to 19%.

With the new investment, the Windons want to take Buena Papa across the nation.

“We’re going to take Buena Papa from Raleigh, North Carolina, and it’s going to travel all over these United States until it’s in every metropolitan city,” James said. “The sky is the limit.”