Humans of UK: Aaron Garcia cooks up big plans


Aaron Garcia poses for a portrait on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, at the Gatton College of Business in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Charlotte Hauck

Aaron Garcia is a student at the University of Kentucky, and on March 31, he will also be a restaurant owner.

His restaurant, Castello’s, will open in South Oakland Village at 4371 Old Harrodsburg Road. “It’s a build-your-own pasta bowl restaurant,” he said. “Think Chipotle, but with pasta.”

Garcia is a senior studying electrical engineering with a minor in business. While studying these subjects, he decided to grow in entrepreneurial skills that were essential in starting his own business.

When Garcia was just a sophomore, he planned to launch an Italian restaurant. However, after seeing the initial impact that COVID-19 had on small businesses and finding a lack of investment opportunities, his team decided to wait out these effects of the pandemic.

Garcia was excited to share the progress that the restaurant is making and will make in the coming weeks.

“We have a rotation printed out … and our building sign is supposed to arrive sometime this week,” he said. “I have a payroll system, so I just need to add the staff.”

Outside of he and his business partner, Garcia said he was unaware of any other UK students who were starting their own businesses.

UK does not have a formal entrepreneurship program to offer its students. However, Garcia said that the university does have events that could be great opportunities for students to participate in if given the chance.

One such event, UK’s PNC Wildcat Pitch Competition, allows students to create a business plan and compete for a spot in the final round where they present their plans in front of a panel of judges. The 2022 competition will be held on April 23 and awards seed money to the winners.

However, he said there is still room for improvement, and that UK could hold more of these events that promote student entrepreneurship.

Garcia believes that though he could be successful if he continued down the path of becoming an engineer, “nothing will compare to a successful business.”