Hispanic, Latino business owners find home in Westwood community
Three business owners talked about their experiences serving food and cutting hair in Westwood. (Justin Jung/Daily Bruin senior staff)
By Justin Jung
Oct. 7, 2021 7:30 a.m.
Editor’s note: Daily Bruin used Latino, Latina, Latinx and Hispanic in this article according to sources’ preferences.
Westwood has been a home to multiple businesses owned by Hispanic and Latino individuals.
Some of the businesses owned by individuals identifying as Hispanic and Latino include Pinches Tacos, Black Stag Barbershop and Tacos 1986.
Miguel Anaya, a co-owner of Pinches Tacos and UCLA alumnus, said his family had always been in the restaurant industry, but it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that he started Pinches with a commitment to quality and freshness.
One of the most important tenets for a restauranteur is maintaining consistency in one’s food, Anaya said, adding that customers will return if they get a great experience at every location they visit. Each location prepares its food with the same quality of ingredients and style, Anaya added.
While establishing Pinches, Anaya said making truly homestyle tacos was his main priority, as it had been difficult to find traditional tacos in the area. Cutting corners on using cheap ingredients was not the way he had tacos at home and not the way he wanted to serve others, Anaya added.
“What made us want to start a business was we couldn’t find a place where we could eat like we eat at home,” Anaya said. “At that time, we thought that tacos were just dumbed down. If we just get the cheapest meats, throw it on the grill, put salt and pepper, put a tortilla and spicy salsa – that’s not how we eat at home.”
Black Stag Barbershop
Cheyenne Wells, the owner of Black Stag Barbershop located inside Phenix Salon Suites, said she opened her haircutting business in January 2018 as a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Wells, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, said some of her inspiration for Black Stag Barbershop came from clients in the process of transitioning gender expression who had talked about difficulties going to a barbershop.
“The space that I provide is a safe space that is nonjudgemental where they can feel free to be themselves,” Wells said. “What I’ve experienced with some of my clients is that they don’t feel comfortable in a traditional barber setting.”
Wells also said she thinks that historically, there hasn’t been much opportunity for minorities to open businesses in West Los Angeles but that the business outlook is starting to change. As new businesses open in Westwood, Wells said she hopes they will be inclusive to everyone.
“Just be welcoming and open your doors because you never know where other people have been,” Wells said. “You don’t know their path, their journey. Just be friendly, open your doors and open your hearts.”
Founder of Tacos 1986, Victor Delgado, said he began selling tacos in November 2018 after looking for traditional tacos from his former home in Tijuana, Mexico.
While there were many others making tacos around LA, they weren’t the kind that he missed, Delgado said.
“There’s all these other people doing tacos, … but they were not doing it as that style, and that’s what I really missed from back home,” Delgado said. “I really felt that LA would appreciate if the city had an offering in that style, Tijuana-style tacos.”
Delgado attributed much of Tacos 1986’s success to his business partner Jorge Alvarez-Tostado, who focused on the culinary aspect of the business. One thing that sets Tacos 1986 apart from other taco eateries is the use of a trompo, or vertical spit, as a cooking technique for pork in Tijuana-style tacos, Delgado said.
Delgado also said doing one’s homework in the industry is crucial for entrepreneurship. Learning about other existing similar businesses in the area and brainstorming how to differentiate one’s own style is key to success, he added.
“You always have to be a student of whatever business you’re in,” Delgado said. “You never know too much or all of it. To this day, I’m eating out at taco restaurants, I’m reading up on new stands that open, I go eat there.”
Contributing reports by Megan Tagami, Daily Bruin reporter.