We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse Gomez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jesse, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I grew up in my family’s restaurant. It was started in the early 60’s by my grandparents. El Arco Iris was a neighborhood restaurant for over 50 years in Highland Park. I was always amazed and influenced by how my immigrant grandparents from Mexico with no language and no money were able to create a successful business that endured for so long. I wanted to start my own business because I wanted to continue their legacy and create one of my own. Their influence has always carried me in a positive manner throughout my career,
What should our readers know about your business?
We own and operate 6 restaurants under Cocinas Y Calaveras, LLC. I like to think we are successful because of our approach to running restaurants.. My business partner Jose Acevedo and myself are very hands on when it comes to operations. We are in our restaurants almost daily and work side by side with our associates. We are not office people. We feel it is necessary and crucial to do this because our work ethic hopefully trickles down to our associates at all levels. I am most proud of the fact that for the most part our restaurants have proven themselves financially viable and this is due mostly to the fact that our consistency is generally spot on when it comes to food and service. We are not perfect but we never rest on our laurels and always strive to be better. Getting to this point was not easy. My first restaurant in DTLA Yxta Cocina Mexicana was not a smash hit right away. In fact, it took us 15 months to turn a profit there. The lesson I learned from this first business was to keep grinding and persevering. . Eventually it paid off-Our second restaurant Mercado Santa Monica WAS an instant success, however, I did not let this get to my head. Instead, I worked just as hard to keep this momentum going. I will never become complacent which I think many in my position do once they find or achieve success. I probably work harder today with 6 restaurants than when I had two restaurants. I think I would want the world to know that running a restaurant or multiple restaurants is a daily grind. Many outsiders looking in see it as a glamorous job where you go in once or twice a week as an owner and just collect a fat check at the end of the pay period. Running even one restaurant is extremely stressful. There are so many moving parts and there is only so much one person can do because you rely on so many factors to make your day work. As a restaurant owner you put out fires on the daily. Most guests or friends of mine will never see or understand what this is like. Of course you get better at handling these setbacks with the passage of time and with experience but the obstacles are never ending….
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am an avid motorcyclist so I would definitely want to take them on a ride out to Malibu or the Angeles crest. Not a lot of amazing roads like the 2 highway out there in the country so gotta take advantage. If riding out to Malibu I would do an amazing lunch at Nobu right on the Pacific Ocean and then have some afternoon drinks at Little Beach house next door. Another great spot for cocktails is The Varnish downtown. Some of my can’t miss LA restaurants are Republique, Madeo (hopefully reopening soon), Jar, and Mr. Chow. On the casual side I love Joe’s Falafel and if I’m craving tacos I’m a big fan of El Ruso and Mexicali. My late night spots I enjoy are Black Market Liquor Bar and 82 which is basically an adult arcade with a bar. I love catching shows at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre so I would definitely include those on my list. Coffee at Deus Ex Machina is always a treat as is walking down Abbot Kinney and the boardwalk in Venice….
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My grandmother Irene Montes has always been my greatest hero and role model She raised me after my father died for 8 years. She taught me the value of hard work. I remember seeing her work so hard yet she always made time to be loving, generous and affectionate to me. She taught me so much about the world and I credit the values that I have to her and the way she raised me. She was my mom, my mentor, and my best friend all wrapped up in one package.
Facebook: Jesse Gomez