MEDA is committed to ensuring the Mission District retains its historic and current identity as a strong Latino community, and a welcoming place for immigrants and the generations of Latino families who have long called the neighborhood home. It is imperative that small businesses thrive, as one strategy of community ownership.
Following is a story of a neighborhood venture representing the type of family-serving business MEDA looks to help thrive.
Owner: Yelson Gomez (photo, center)
Business: El Rinconcito Catracho #2
Address: 2976 Mission St.
Product: Honduran and Salvadoran food
What gave you your idea to start you business?
We wanted to do something different than what was currently being offered in San Francisco. Being an immigrant from Honduras, I ended up finding out that there were no Honduran restaurants where someone like myself could go and eat something that reminds me of home. My restaurant was started to help others reconnect to their home, but it is also a way for me to further provide opportunities to my community via the employment of six people. We have been able to create a community space where people from Honduras can come and connect.
What has your experience been opening a business in the Mission?
We have noticed that it has been easier to find more clients being in the Mission. Our previous restaurant was located on Third Street, and while it was popular, we ended up noticing that most of our clientele was not from our community — that others were interested in trying Honduran dishes. The Mission is home to many Hondurans, so we have been able to grow our community, clientele and employment pool thanks to that fact. It is a great hub from which we can grow our business with the community we serve.
How does your business/business idea relate to your life?
I have always believed that the best way for someone to understand your life, culture and life in general is through food. Food is a beautiful art that I have personally been invested in mastering for the past 13 years, working in different restaurants in my home country of Honduras and here in San Francisco. I realized that everywhere I worked I was able to get a better understanding of the people/culture by learning more about how the chefs and owners treated the food-making process. Food not only helps others understand my culture and myself, but I am able to reciprocate by learning about my clients’ cultures, tastes and ideas when they try my offerings.
Why should potential customers invest in small businesses?
I think small businesses offer something that is unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Every small business offers something that is personalized that is oftentimes a reflection of the person selling you this service. Small businesses offer quality, creativity and, oftentimes, valuable products and experiences that you wouldn’t be able to find in big-box corporate establishments. Our products have much soul — and you can taste it in our food.
Where do you see your business in five years?
I see this business continuing to grow and serve our community, but I hope that through my businesses success I can attain enough resources and clients to open up another restaurant, where I would like to practice a different concept. I would love to open up a seafood restaurant or a gourmet restaurant where I can prepare different types of dishes, but also offer a higher quality of service to show others that I can further build upon my career as a chef and business owner.
What do you love about the Mission?
I love the sense of community that exists here in the Mission. I oftentimes find that my clients are very humble, thankful and show much care when they come through those doors. Even when non-Hondurans walk in through the door, it’s good to see how open they are to try something different and learn more about how Hondurans express ourselves through food. I also love how accessible the Mission is for clients and even for the products/goods I need for me to operate my successful business.