We had the good fortune of connecting with Allysa Esparza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allysa, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Most of the time, work life balance is uneven for us, because we are a small business with few employees. Our company is in its infancy stage and requires a lot of time and effort. I can remember when I was in college full time, and working part time, I thought that my plate was “full” but little did I know what a full plate really meant.
Back then, I had time to attend class, study and even hang out with friends for dinner. Now, I’m lucky if I get a proper meal in throughout the day! However, it’s honestly not a complaint. It’s just the reality of our current stage.
Even though we are, what some might consider to be imbalanced, it’s actually a conscious choice we make every day in order to stay on our trajectory.
Balance is important for overall wellness, to nurture relationships, to get inspired and be creative but at the end of the day, there isn’t a perfect formula to ensure balance, and one size won’t fit all.
For us, it’s about listening to our bodies and mind to know when to disconnect and allow separation, so that we can recharge and continue to do what we love with a fresh mind and passion.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We started out as caterers specializing in what is known as a “taquizas”, translated to a “taco party”. We brought the experience of a taco street vendor to the comfort of your back yard preparing tacos with all the sight, sounds and aromas in front of guests. Our scratch made food, salsas, and handmade flour and corn tortillas kept us busy. We figured, in between our catering projects, we would open up our counter in our commercial kitchen to allow the community to taste our food and with hopes to drive more catering business. We were in a hidden area and didn’t expect much traffic, especially since we were not a traditional sit-down eatery but more like a taco take out.
Never did we imagine that our take counter would become popular. We found ourselves with loyal lunch goers and the notion of opening “in between” catering gigs was no longer an option. We actually needed to stay open daily to serve our loyal community.
Part of this transition was not really knowing how to serve a lunch rush. We were accustomed to the somewhat luxury of catering by working at our pace and without the pressure of the ticket machine ringing as loudly as your morning alarm! We didn’t know how to execute tickets, we had no clue on how many people would be coming in on any given day, nor how much of each item we should be preparing for. It was overwhelming to say the least.
As hard as the transition was, it was truly a blessing in disguise because this set us up to survive and thrive during the peak of COVID. I remember that our calendar was filling up for our high season starting in March of 2020. Our catering was booked out through May and into June when one by one, the cancellations came in as restrictions were announced and gatherings were no longer permitted. We were scared, disappointed, sad and just unsure. Without gatherings, there was not a need for catering.
While the Catering cancellations were coming in, our counter started to pick up even more, and before we knew it, all of our business was coming from the take our counter. We were preparing individual packaged meals and delivery services were at an all-time high.
By trial and error, we learned how to execute, and quickly found our groove in the world of take out. Among all the lessons we learned through this experience, being agile and open to sudden change was one of the largest. Changing our scope and meeting the requirements and needs of a business model that was different than we started, helped us to not only stretch, but ultimately grow. We learned tons in the short amount of time.
Even though the change came out of necessity, it allowed us to be creative, and expand our menu items. We stayed true to our beliefs that small batches preserve our quality and scratch made food was our daily mission. As cheesy as it may sound, we’re most excited and proud to share our love for food with our customers by being able to serve them each day. It’s a privilege we don’t take lightly.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d definitely need to take a local culinary tour in Old Town Newhall. Maybe start out by visiting the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market to walk around, talk to the farmers, get some delicious fruits, and smoked almonds. Then stroll down to Main street and grab a bite at the Newhall Refinery to have a Hanger steak with their amazing sautéed brussels and wash that down with a nice cold beer. Then end that tour with some fresh scratch made churros and chocolate gelato from XRO. Just simply amazing. For the evening, we’d head over to Santa Monica pier, and be total tourist to walk off the food while enjoying the street performers. Ride the ferris wheel at night and enjoy the sky and sound of the waves.
For the next day, a must breakfast/lunch would be Roscoes Chicken and Waffles. Then check out the sunset strip to shop. Then by night catch a show at the Hollywood Bowl, one of the best places for outdoor concerts, like Mariachi festivals where you can lay out your blanket and enjoy a packed picnic and sip on wine. Then you can’t visit L.A. without getting in some authentic street tacos, or In & Out!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Our parents, Robert and Delores are our biggest supporters, and top fans. Through their actions, they demonstrate a high work ethic, values, and dedication. They encourage us when we’re climbing uphill, They help put things into perspective when it’s overwhelming. They taught us to always be grateful for every experience we have, good or bad; because it will always make us better. Added bonus, is that they each have their own unique skill sets that benefit us greatly. Our dad, Robert, can figure out logistics for any situation that seems impossible, and our mom, Delores can smooth over any rough terrain we encounter. And they both can problem solve like no one’s business. With their support, we can clearly see what is possible.