Entrepreneurs at La Cocina Municipal Market, the first-ever female-run food hall in San Francisco
La Cocina is an award-winning non-profit kitchen incubator whose goal is to help solve the problem of equity in business ownership, especially for working-class women food entrepreneurs, many of whom are also immigrants. Starting a business in the food sector is not an easy task, and so La Cocina helps its entrepreneurs grow and formulate their businesses through affordable commercial kitchen space, technical assistance and access to market opportunities.
Most recently, La Cocina launched the nation’s first-ever female-run food hall in San Francisco’s Tenderlion area. The La Cocina Municipal Market is also being used to continue supporting food security programs in the Tenderloin, an area that faces high unemployment and would benefit the most from healthy, affordable food. This 7,000 square foot food hall is home to seven La Cocina entrepreneurs, each a woman of color serving cuisines that reflect their roots and the diversity of the neighborhood.
“La Cocina Market is going to make an incredible difference by giving women entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their talents, grow their businesses and provide new community space and delicious food to the Tenderloin community,” said the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed.
The Municipal Marketplace business is a combination of La Cocina graduates and women launching their first brick and mortar. They include: Chef Tiffany Carter’s Boug Cali Creole Cuisine Bodega; Salvadoran cuisine from Estrellita snacks by chef Estrella Gonzalez; Algerian cuisine by Chef Wafa and Kayma by Mounir Bahloul; the Mexican cuisine of chef Dilsa Lugo’s Los Cilantros restaurant; Mexican cuisine at Mi Morena by chef Guadalupe Moreno; Senegalese/Pan-African cuisine from Teranga by Chef Nafy Flatley; and finally the Nepalese cuisine of chef Bini Pradhan’s Bini’s Kitchen.
From Algerian specialties like Shorbat, Harira, Dobara, Coco Tomate and Baklawa to Senegalese dishes like Maafe Bowl, Marche Kermel Sandwich and Dakar Muffaletta, there is an incredible range of cuisines that you won’t find anywhere. anywhere else under one roof.
The market is run by Chief Entrepreneur Jay Foster as the Municipal Market Manager. Chef Foster’s career has included running his iconic restaurant Farmerbrown in the Tenderloin for 15 years, as well as Little Skillet and Isla Vida Caribbean. He works alongside Naomi Maisel, Community Partnerships and Food Justice Advocacy Manager, whose goal is to foster relationships with Tenderloin organizations and residents.
We spoke with five of the women entrepreneurs at La Cocina Municipal Market about how this has changed the trajectory of their businesses. Here’s what they had to say.
Tiffany Carter from Bug Cali: “Being part of the La Cocina Municipal Market is spatial justice. Black entrepreneurship is the highest form of activism because it inspires the black community to create their own financial freedom while providing jobs and opportunities for others. I feel privileged to be part of La Cocina, privileged for the first time in my life.
Dilsa Lugo from Los Cilantros: “It’s amazing to be part of the municipal market of La Cocina. Their support and community has given me confidence in my food and confidence as a business owner. My business wouldn’t be what it is today without them.
Wafa Bahloul from KAYMA: “As an immigrant from Algeria, I never imagined owning my own business just 5 years after living in the United States. La Cocina has made opening and running a business less daunting. I feel lucky to be part of this supportive community that has been vital to the growth of my business. »
Guadalupe Moreno by Mi Morena: “Being part of the Municipal Market of La Cocina has allowed more people to know about my business, helping us to grow day by day.”
Nafy Flatley from Teranga: “Being part of the La Cocina Municipal Market has been a dream come true. Running my own restaurant gives me the financial freedom to support my family, provide jobs for my community, and allows me to teach people about my culture through my food. I’m living the American dream.