Nearing completion of the reimagining of the first floor of MEDA’s Plaza Adelante neighborhood center, there will be a pair of food stalls to fill. That’s why in late June five prospective small ventures — out of the six that have submitted their business plan — dropped by MEDA’s offices for their pitch to staff. While all definitely delivered, only a single business can be chosen, as one of the new incubator spaces will be for a La Cocina client. La Cocina cultivates low-income female food entrepreneurs. MEDA Business Development client and neighborhood favorite Cholo Soy will also return to a refurbished space, once again dishing out tasty cerviche in the neighborhood.
All three eateries’ customers will share common seating and gathering in a community living room designed for families. There will be plenty of table space and comfortable seating areas to encourage engagement. The concept is for the space to also be available for local community events at street level, to activate this corner as welcoming for families.
With scorecards in hand, the MEDA team initially listened to a description of each creative menu, including what was the impetus for each immigrant starting their business. Then it was time for staff to savor the sensational food and drinks offered.
The following are the five businesses that came by to present:
Café con Leche
Run by sisters (photo), this venture would sell organic coffee — always popular in the Mission. These budding entrepreneurs are paying it forward, as their coffee is distributed by another local woman-owned venture. Complementing that hot beverage will be an assortment of food items ranging from hearty coffee cake and trendy chia chocolate pudding to such staples as granola-topped yogurt and a variety of sandwiches.
With the food of Senegal and neighboring West African African countries on the menu, the husband-and-wife team that runs Teranga Juices incorporates the superfood fruit baobab into their dishes, including a groundnut stew called mafé. Four baobab drinks are also offered, with the intriguing names of Pura Vida, Teranga Strong, Happiness Blend and Love Potion.
Peruvian food is highlighted by meat-filled and vegetarian empanadas, washed down with organic coffee or herbal lemonade. For a mid-afternoon snack or after-dinner dessert, alfajores are offered. Alfajores are South American soft cookies made with cornstarch and filled with ever-popular dulce de leche. For those seeking healthier fare, Barranco Catering would also feature three quinoa salads, the owner stating during his pitch, “People think Latin American food is heavy. My food is lighter fare.”
The husband-and-wife team of Villagona Bagels must have spent some time back East, as their doughy delights are handmade and boiled like they are in the “Big Apple.” Knowing of the need in the Mission, there is also a gluten-free option. The owners even make their own toppings, including a vegan cream cheese. Toppings are fresh and include onions, carrots and cucumbers.
Jugo Delicias’ Peruvian specialties give a new take on the healthy trend of the green drink. For starters are hearty quinoa beverages, popular in the owners’ homeland, especially as a way to start the day. To aid digestion, a surprisingly tasty cactus/artichoke/aloe drink is offered. Berry juice is thick, as no water is added. For a unique dessert, purple corn is heated until syrupy, a thick delight created.
As staff handed in their scorecards, they were clearly pleased … and sated.
Which venture should occupy the new incubator space will definitely be a tough joint decision by MEDA’s Business Development and Community Real Estate teams, who are now reviewing business plans and financials.
We’ll keep everyone posted.