El Pollo Loco announced a grant program to help Latina-owned businesses in the Los Angeles area. The grant, which is $10,000 and mentorship to grow their businesses, went to several businesses ran by Latinas. Covid-19 has devastated the small business community and women have been the hardest hit. El Pollo Loco’s grants offered some businesses a necessary lifeline.
Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen
Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen started in 2013 and aims to offer people healthy juices to help with their own health goals. Tatiana Pacheco’s own journey in weight loss with the help of juices inspired the company to be.
“It means a lot for AHK and we are going to be forever grateful for all the support we received from our clients, friends, followers and family,” Pacheco said. “The amount of love was unbelievable during this contest. I cried with every single nomination because they all had a special memory or reason to nominate AHK.”
Desyi Minera Serrano created Milpa Grille to connect people with their Mesoamerican ancestors through food. The most important part of the Milpa Grille experience is the use of the all-important ingredient: corn.
“This El Pollo Loco [grant] is huge for us. It will ease my mind knowing that we have the fund to catch up to those bills that piled up during COVID. But most importantly that you have organizations/companies that are willing to help and assist others during a time where the hospitality industry has been hit the hardest,” Minera Serrano says. “Having such a huge company like El Pollo Loco help us professionals is such a privilege. We’re going to ensure that the professional help is applied to Milpa not only to better us as a team but also see how we can share what we applied so we thrive as a community.”
Chef Denise Vallejo is a first-generation indigenous Xicana who is bringing plant-based foods to everyone who finds her on social media. Alchemy Organica is a pop-up restaurant, lifestyle brand, and product line with roots in the plant-based heritage of Mexico.
“My main focus has always been the creative. I consider myself an artist first and this business cannot exist without the passion I feel for my art. However, I look forward to having expert business & financial advice to support me as I continue to grow. I come from a very humble background & working class family,” Vallejo says. “There’s so much for me to learn about running a sustainable business & becoming financially literate. I grew up seeing my father self-employed & running his own businesses, but I often wonder how much more successful his businesses could have been if he had access to more resources. It feels like I’m being supported by the universe to break generational curses now.”
For decades, ‘Mama’ Socorro Herrera has been offering delicious bites from the Yucatan and people cannot get enough. According to their website, Mama and her husband Jaime first got customers by promising that they’d love it or they’d get double their money back.
Mama was touched to see the letters of love a support they received in the nomination process for the grant. Mama says that the grant to Yucas LA has “provided a breathing space financially, and an invaluable opportunity to be mentored in a specific area of business. I feel like I’ve been allowed free rein of the candy store! The campaign itself has generated a buzz that improved business.”
Owners Pilar Castañeda and Marlon Gonzalez are giving people a wonderful taste of Latino coffee culture with their coffee cart. The pop-up coffee business is also in the process of creating a modern Oaxacan coffee shop in California.
“We’ve put all of our heart and soul to bring our community quality coffee and a great experience to take home,” Castañeda says. “This grant will help Café Santo reach the next step in our journey, using these funds towards opening our first contemporary Oaxacan coffee shop in the Eastside of LA. El Pollo Loco’s professional mentorship will help guide us in building a solid foundation for our growing small business, something that will create long-lasting change for us as an emerging business.”
La Llorona Bakes
Adriana De Casas’ business, La Llorona Bakes LLC, is an example of a hobby becoming a profitable career. It was the kind of hobby that went from YouTube tutorials to making money with the support of friends and family.
“It means the world to me that friends, family, and customers took the time and effort to nominate me. What may just be one post to them, it means everything to me,” De Casas says. “It means they believe in my dreams, that they support me wholeheartedly. But more so, it’s honestly just reassuring like I can do this, I AM doing this.”
East Los Sweets
Baking was a part of Laura Martinez’s life since she was younger. The LA Central Bakery has been in her family since 1984 and working in a kitchen was never her plan. However, it quickly became where she was the most creative.
Martinez is grateful for the El Pollo Local Grant for giving her a chance, as a one-woman operation, it make investments in her business.
“Since gatherings are on a smaller scale because of Covid, this grant will help me buy equipment that would have taken me twice as long to save up from my orders,” Martinez says. “El pollo grant also provided finance/accounting mentorship that will help me further grow more as a small business.”
Jocelyn Ramirez is a woman of many talents, including a deep knowledge of plant-based cooking. The college professor, chef, yoga teacher, and businesswoman is on a mission to create delicious plant-based foods deeply rooted in the flavors and techniques of Mexico and South America and they might be coming to a grocery store near you.
“This grant is going to our payroll for our team and will also help us continue to pivot our business,” Ramirez says. “We have been dreaming of launching consumer packaged goods available in grocery stores for the last couple of years, but have been too busy to get it off the ground. Now, we are ready and working with an amazing team to make it all happen!”
Lori Sandoval created Salsaology in 2013 when she was fresh out of college and needed to create a career. She knew that food was the path but didn’t plan on culinary school. With that idea, Salsaology was born in her kitchen.
“The response from our customers and friends was a humbling experience to me and the team. We feel inspired by everyone’s support; it has given us a gust of wind to keep going especially through these difficult times,” Sandoval says. “We really do strive to service and offer our community food that is clean and good for you without compromising our culinary traditions. So when we see this outpour of love and support, it motivates us to keep showing up for our community.”
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