Leticia Chavez, Fruitvale, Taco Grill
Taco Grill, located less than a block away from the Fruitvale Bart Station in the Fruitvale Public Market, is owned by Leticia Chavez, a highly motivated mother of three. Leticia began learning about the restaurant business as a teenager at her fatherʼs eatery, Helenaʼs, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. By nineteen she was running the entire restaurant. Raised with an entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic, upon moving to Oakland, California, Leticia opened her own skincare business which is now owned and operated by her sister.
For her second business, Leticia decided to return to her roots in the restaurant world, and in 2007 she opened Taco Grill. Her mission was to serve flavorful healthy Mexican food. Taco Grill proudly utilizes organic meat products from Niman Ranch and Rocky Free Range Chickens as well as many other organic ingredients to prepare their food. In doing so, Leticia hopes to show people that Latin food can be healthy and tasty too. Itʼs working. Her customers rave about her delicious tacos, burritos, and pozole.
In 2011, the Unity Council, which runs a small business incubator providing affordable space for Taco Grill and other small businesses in the Public Market brought in Centro Community Partners to teach and advise its business owners. Leticia was paired with MBA advisor and professional coach Jennifer Lin, who helped Leticia create a growth strategy and leadership development plan for her business. She then strategized with Leticia about her profit margins, avenues for promotion of Taco Grill, and ways to raise employee morale. Jennifer also offered Leticia support and guidance with her vision for expanding Taco Grill into the catering sector which has increased profits for the business.
Leticia is not only grateful for the strategic advice she received from Centro, but also for the emotional support. From Centro she learned about self-care through understanding leadership behavior, attitude, and performance- very important elements needed to operate her business successfully. She began to delegate more responsibility and created a manager position for one of her employees. This allowed herself to have short “descansos” (rests). Centroʼs support has really helped her to maintain faith and confidence in her business.
Before she worked with Centro Community Partners, Leticia was struggling with making the rent for Taco Grill each month, low credit, and low morale. With Centro’s advising and help, she has been able to make her rent, increase her profits, and her morale. She is proud that she can continue to offer her clientele delicious healthy Mexican food at a reasonable price, and they have rewarded her for her efforts. In 2012, she won the Indie Award in the Ripple Effect category where her customers voted her one of the best local businesses in Oakland out of 200 nominees.
Stop by Taco Grill today and try it for yourself! Make sure to ask about catering options.