We had the good fortune of connecting with David Aguilar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When we thought of our business we knew one thing, Vegan taquerias were non-existent. I (David) came from a family that owns a taqueria & so it was important to me to make the same authentic Mexican food available for the vegan community. That idea has led us to where we are today.
What should our readers know about your business?
When we first thought of our business we were only 23 years old with a very big idea. Quickly our idea became a reality, and within a month Vegan by El Zamorano had its first pop-up event. It seems crazy fast looking back on it, but we honestly couldn’t have done it without the help of our families and friends.
David grew up in his parents restaurant, Taqueria El Zamorano, which plays homage to his parents hometown, Zamora, Michoacan. Both his mother and father worked tirelessy to achieve a successful life in the states. Their work led them to have one of the best Mexican food restaurants in Orange County. As David grew older, he helped his parents manage their restaurant, finding a love for the kitchen. He used his time at work to come up with vegan recipes that would lead him to his own restaurant one day. David knew his talent would take him further, yet, he needed help with marketing and getting his vision to consumer. That’s where Julia comes in. She came in with a knowledge for marketing that helped David take his idea to a brand. We had many struggles when starting, the first struggle was money. We both had very little money and used what we had to start, combined it was less than $1,000. The money we made from our pop-up’s actually funded the purchase of our mobile equipment. In late 2019, our mobile equipment was stolen, leaving us with no business. For once, it felt like this was our biggest defeat. We cried that night and thought what next?! Little did we know, within a couple of months we would be in a global pandemic. As Covid-19 ravaged the world, we still fought through and started to look for a storefront. We found many potential locations and had applied for a business loan to help cover the start-up costs, we were denied. No bank thought our idea was a good one, to them it was risky. We were also 25 years old at the time, with part-time pay stubs from our regular jobs. Nevertheless, we NEVER gave up. By Spring of 2020, David’s families second location of their restaurant was struggling from the pandemic. We were given the opportunity to take over and open our storefront. Within 2 weeks of the news, we opened. Remember when we said we couldn’t have done it without our families? It’s really true. When we opened we became such a huge success, we were so overwhelmed with the demand. We worked 14 hours + a day, which led us to hiring more staff to help. The success was AMAZING, but what most don’t know was the mental and physical toll it took on us. We both were faced with an enormous amount of stress, anxiety, and depression that came with the sudden change in our lives. Very quickly we both learned that we are also regular people, and we too needed a day off once in a while. Because of this, it led us to becoming employers that focused on our staff’s health and well-being as they are a huge component to our daily operations. Present day, we are dealing with Covid-19 effects of inflation which is 100% a real thing. Yet, with our past, we know this is just another hurdle to jump over. We’ve learned there isn’t any struggle we can’t survive and today, we have even bigger dreams for our future growth than we could ever imagine back in 2018.
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.
100% the first stop would be to the city of Santa Ana, CA. Santa Ana is where we grew up, it’s our home. The city is full of Mexican / Latin culture with taquerias on most streets, panaderias, and must see local businesses. Not to mention hanging out at home listening to some good jams & having good conversation. For food, we would go to Zabb Thai Vegetarian in Newport, which of course, would land us at the beach, a must visit while in the OC. We would also check out Disneyland because why not?! And of course, Drinks at Downtown Santa Ana, with must visit bars such as El Indio, Hectors on Broadway, and Mission Bar.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We would like to give a shout out to our families and friends. We could have never done this without your endless support & encouragement. You have given us more than we could ask for and we thank you all as your support has kept us going.
Yelp: Vegan by El Zamorano