After serving tapas and wine for 17 years on Frazier Avenue, Terra Nostra is closing its doors. Owners Efren and Gema Ormaza want to spend more time with family and devote more time to the Penipe Foundation they created, which provides life-changing medical care to people in need in small rainforest communities in Ecuador, their home country.
"It’s time to give priority to family and loved ones,” said Mr. Ormaza, Terra Nostra’s executive chef. “We have grandchildren now, and we haven’t been back to Ecuador together since the restaurant opened. I missed my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday a few weeks ago because one of us had to stay with the restaurant.”
“Before we close, we want to thank our customers for letting us feed them for 17 years,” said Mrs. Ormaza, who supervises baking, chooses the wine list, and runs the front of the house. “We also want to thank our amazing employees, who have all been with us for more than 10 years. Grace, our head waiter, started the week after we opened.”
Before Terra Nostra’s final serving day on Saturday, July 6, everyone in Chattanooga is invited to two events at the restaurant.
“A Leg for Bernabe” Fundraiser, April 24, 6–9 p.m.
Mr. Ormaza will make his next Penipe Foundation medical mission trip to Ecuador in May. This event will raise money to buy medical supplies and to provide a prosthetic leg for Bernabe, age 50, who lost his leg due to complications from diabetes.
Terra Nostra Thanks Chattanooga, Tuesday July 2, 6–9 p.m.
Enjoy a complementary glass of champagne, hors d’ouevres… and buy a piece of Terra Nostra. All the art that made Terra Nostra’s dining room such a magical place will be for sale, including paintings and metal sculptures, tables (featuring metal art under the glass top), and the front and back gate sculptures in the patio.
For the last 10 years, Mr. Ormaza has organized medical missions for people in need in Ecuador, through the Penipe Foundation. On the last trip, Mr. Ormaza was accompanied by his son, who is a dentist living in Tampa. The trip before that included Dr. Paul McHugh, a family medicine physician from Las Vegas. On every trip, Mr. Ormaza brings a wheelchair, walkers, canes, crutches, vitamins, and non-prescription analgesics for people with arthritis.
Mr. Ormaza also provides care himself. Two trips ago, he met an amputee who had no prosthetic leg. Back in Chattanooga, Mr. Ormaza found connections who provided a leg and taught him how to measure the residual limb and adjust the artificial leg to get a good fit. After Mr. Ormaza returned and installed the man’s new leg on his most recent trip, word spread and more amputees asked for his help. His next trip in May will focus on helping three people who need prosthetic legs. He is planning future trips to communities in other parts of Ecuador that have requested help for amputees who need prosthetic limbs.
“It is very common for people to lose a leg from a motorcycle accident or from diabetes,” said Mr. Ormaza. “This next trip, I am bringing a scanner that will help me measure the remaining leg so the artificial leg will fit correctly.”