Hispanic Heritage Month: Reyna Maldonado, Founder of La Guerrera’s Kitchen

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to close, Comcast is spotlighting Reyna Maldonado, one of two founders of La Guerrera’s Kitchen. La Guerrera’s Kitchen is a family owned and operated restaurant located in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Market. They serve recipes from their native Guerrero, Mexico, specializing in traditional tamales, pozole, barbacoa, and more.

Reyna Maldonado is a Comcast RISE award recipient. Comcast RISE stands for Representation, Investment, and Empowerment. It was created in 2020 to help small businesses recover and thrive after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent interview with our team, Reyna shared her story and how La Guerrera’s Kitchen came to be. Read on to learn more about her journey and advice for aspiring business owners in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Journey
Our business had humble beginnings with my mother, Ofelia Barajas, who dedicated 16 years of her life to selling tamales as a street vendor in the Mission District. In the midst of raising my sisters and me, I closely observed the growth of her business as well as the challenges that came with managing an informal street operation.

Driven by the support of our community, my mother and I took a significant step by enrolling in La Cocina’s incubator program. This decision wasn’t without its challenges – I was juggling my responsibilities as a full-time college student while also recognizing the importance of aiding my mother’s efforts. Our shared determination pushed us forward.

Upon completing the program, a new chapter began for our venture. Our street food stand in Oakland blossomed into a restaurant, named La Guerrera’s Kitchen, drawing from, “La Guerrera,” which translates to, “The Warrior.” This name was chosen thoughtfully, reflecting our origins from the Guerrero region of Mexico and acknowledging the history of immigrant women like us in this country.

With this transformation, our menu underwent a flavorful evolution. While tamales remained at the core, we expanded our offerings to include beloved traditional dishes from our family’s heritage. Dishes such as pozole, barbacoa, and mole rojo became stars on our menu, all crafted from time-honored family recipes that encapsulated the essence of our culture and background.

In essence, our business journey is one of growth, resilience, and celebrating our roots through the art of cuisine. From the streets to a restaurant, we’ve embraced change while staying true to our values, shaping our story through every plate we serve.

The Business

Our business approach has been deeply shaped by the challenges our community faces. Born from our own experiences as undocumented individuals, we began by serving early morning meals to laborers. As we connected with our community through our food, we realized that my mother’s cooking not only satisfied hunger, but also stirred memories of distant homelands and mothers left behind due to immigration status.

These shared stories are a driving force for us. They unite us in a common struggle and inspire us to assert our presence in the food industry while fostering a unique restaurant culture. Our passion for our dishes is matched by our commitment to providing a secure and inclusive haven for our La Guerrera’s Kitchen team. Our business is not just about food; it’s about honoring our roots, sharing our journey, and creating a meaningful impact within our community.

To Fellow Women of Color Thinking about Starting a Business:
My advice would be to seek out a community of entrepreneurs through programs. Having a network of support and a wellspring of inspiration is crucial to avoid feeling isolated on this journey. If you’re embarking on this venture with a partner, it’s essential to have legal guidance to ensure the best decisions for both parties.

Look into local community organizations that can provide invaluable support. Don’t hesitate to bring all your questions and concerns to the table – being well-prepared is key. Additionally, explore opportunities for grants that can provide essential funding and resources to help kickstart your business. Remember, you’re not alone on this path, and there are avenues of assistance waiting to guide you toward success. Be loving and patient with yourself. <3

Support La Guerrera’s Kitchen
Come to eat with us at La Guerrera’s Kitchen: 907 Washington St. STE D Oakland CA 94607
Follow us on our Instagram: @laguerreraskitchen

Order catering with us: laguerreraskitchen.com

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