2012年6月13日 星期三

An immigrant’s journey from shadowy food carts to successful entrepreneurship

Tomorrow at lunch time, she will sell her tamales to the financiers who crowd outside the Ferry Building for a taste of the street-food craze sweeping San Francisco.Choose from our large selection of cableties, But tonight, she gets to do what she loves most: prepare the recipes learned from her mother and grandmother as a child in Mazatlan, Mexico.Alicia Villanueva,Home ownership options with buy mosaic. 51, stands at a kitchen counter stuffing pork and Oaxaceno con rajas into dozens of tamales, her fingers folding the cornhusks in a motion she has performed countless times. A pan of rice the size of a car tire bubbles on an industrial stove across the room.It's pretty cool but our ssolarpanel are made much faster than this.

It’s about 6 o’clock on a May evening and there is a flurry of activity at La Cocina, a food startup incubator in the Mission District. Some chefs prep food for the next day while others ready trays for dinner catering jobs. Two years ago, about 30 people showed up for a free orientation. This year, more than 200 hopefuls crammed into the space. Overwhelmingly women, they want to launch food-related businesses but need work space, financial assistance and guidance.

La Cocina is tucked among the brightly colored homes on Folsom Street. Its decor both pays homage to the vibrancy of the Mission District and celebrates the incubator’s graduates. A poster-size painting depicts a tree with the La Cocina family filling out the branches. Businesses like Shi Gourmet and Peas of Mind — successful companies that launched here and provide encouragement to those still at La Cocina — are depicted in bright blues, yellows, oranges and reds.

Just over 5-foot-5 with long, dark hair and an infectious smile, Alicia came to La Cocina about two years ago with dreams of running a food cart. She earned a tourism degree in Guadalajara as a young woman and worked along the resort-laden shores of Puerto Vallarta. Opportunities to get ahead were rare.

“In the United States, you can work very hard and save some money and buy a car,” she said. “In Mexico, you work and work for years and years and it’s impossible to buy that car.”

So a dozen years ago, with her husband and young son in tow, she moved to California, living briefly in Oakland before settling in Berkeley. She took on various jobs — cleaning houses and caring for the elderly — that left her feeling uninspired. The work was physically draining, too, and Alicia remained intent on pursuing her dream of cooking for others.

All of her recipes have been passed down from one generation of women in her family to the next. She has just started sharing them with her 8-year-old daughter, Grecia.

As soon as she arrived in the United States, she began preparing tamales and selling them door-to-door and in front of the churches and auto body shops along Oakland’s hectic International Boulevard. She often brought her son Pedro along, and recalls one auto body worker telling him, “I used to do this with my mom when I was young, and now she has her own restaurant. Don’t you ever give up!”

People gobbled up her tamales, but she was selling them without a permit, and a few years ago Alicia decided it was time to stop cooking in the shadows. She came to La Cocina, where admission to the incubator program is rigorous. The incubator receives about 45 applications a year for around 30 spaces. Those who apply have attended orientations, and submitted business plans and letters of recommendation. They want to run catering businesses and food trucks, farmers’ market stalls and specialty packaged food businesses.

Daniella Sawaya, a La Cocina employee and food cart expert, said the idea of owning and operating a brick-and-mortar restaurant is unrealistic for many of her clients. They find the high overhead costs, long hours and restricted lifestyle too burdensome.Ekahau rtls is the only Wi-Fi based real time location system solution that operates on any brand or generation of Wi-Fi network.

The Internet and social networking sites have also made mobile food businesses more appealing. With the flexibility and immediacy of Twitter and Facebook, food entrepreneurs are free to switch locations or hours at a moment’s notice and still keep customers informed.

Alicia came to the incubator with the idea of running a food cart that specialized in Mayan tamales. Over the past two years,Industrialisierung des werkzeugbaus. she has successfully purchased and launched the cart, and expanded into catering with help and guidance from La Cocina. Her eventual goal is to do what few of the others dream of — open her own restaurant.

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