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Rosie Ortiz: Passionate about Sharing Her Puerto Rican Delicacies with San Francisco

Despite overcoming many personal hardships, Rosie Ortiz is on a mission to expand her thriving catering business to food trucks and eventually a restaurant. As one of the few sources of Puerto Rican food in the city, Rosie’s business is thriving. WE talks to her about how she is achieving her dreams.

Restauranteur Rosie Ortiz is of Puerto Rican heritage. She is smiling into the camera and her dark brown hair reaches to her mid-back. Her silver jewelry is striking against a black blouse on a white background.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
RO:

I learned how to cook from my mom at a young age, and about 6 years ago I was a case manager for youth at risk. I quit my job to help my daughter raise my granddaughter so I posted on my Facebook page that I could cook Puerto Rican dishes for the holidays. And it took off from there.

What made you decide to make it a full-time business?
RO:

I always wanted to own my own food business. I took a 14 week class at the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center to see if I wanted to do it from a business standpoint.

How did you get funding?
RO:

I joined the La Cocina San Francisco Kitchen Incubator program and I’ve been with them for almost 3 years. Recently La Cocina received a donation of a food truck and gave it to me, so now I’m saving to get it up and running soon. Right now I’m doing festivals and home catering.

How do you market your business?
RO:

I post several times a week to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. From March to November I do a pop-up restaurant in a homeless shelter and twice a week in the Mission District. But word of mouth is my largest referral source. And I have a booth every year in at the Carnivale San Francisco. That really launched my business—the Carnivale.

Three toasty, half-moon shaped empanadas with a bowl of creamy avocado sauce.

 

Anybody can build anything from nothing if you put your mind to it, have a goal and a plan. I’ve done it. It’s possible. You have to endure and keep pushing forward knowing you will reach your goal. No one is going to do it but me.
What keeps you motivated?
RO:

It’s my passion. I love to cook and my grandkids motivate me to keep going. My late sister, and my godparents, who have also passed away motivate me because I know they are watching over me. Even when I’m tired I keep the end goal in sight—a restaurant and several successful food trucks.

Do you have a business plan?
RO:

I’m In middle of revising mine now because it’s been a year and I’m needing more financing. I’m updating everything. It’s my second update in one year.

Who do you ask for advice? Do you have a mentor?
RO:

I have a counselor at La Cocina that I rely on and everyone there helps if my regular one isn’t available or can’t answer my question. The Chamber of Commerce and my friends and family have helped. My sister (who passed away from cancer) and her husband ran a pest control business and my other sister has an embroidery business. They motivate me and help me through it.

A store’s hand drawn Open sign in chalk on a metal, rectangular sign with rounded corners hanging on a grey metal chain.

 

Cooking is my passion. My grandkids motivate me to keep going. My late sister, and my godparents, who have also passed away motivate me because I know they are watching over me. Even when I’m tired I keep the end goal in sight.
What are your specialties?
RO:

I came up with a vegan empanada—vegan dough and vegan cheese from scratch. More expensive than my regular empanadas (beef, chicken and pork), but worth it. I also have a vegetarian with black beans, corn and queso fresco, and a pizza empanada kids love. There are very few Puerto Rican restaurants in San Francisco so my food is very popular.

What has the biggest struggle since opening?
RO:

Taking care of my sister while she had cancer and keeping business going at the same time. It didn’t matter that it was too hard.

What are advantages or disadvantages to being a women in business?
RO:

I don’t think I had any disadvantages [as a woman]. It’s up to me where I want to go. I don’t let anything stop me. My past credit is the biggest difficulty. And having enough money to get started.

How do you deal with failure?
RO:

I have lost everything twice and I pick up and start over. I was homeless with my kids. I’ve lost a sister to cancer, and both my godmother and godfather passed away.

But anybody can build anything from nothing if you put your mind to it, have a goal and a plan. I’ve done it. It’s possible. You have to endure and keep pushing forward knowing you will reach your goal. No one is going to do it but me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
RO:

With several food trucks and a restaurant. I want to be able to relax once things are successful. But I’m not worried about being successful since people love my food.

 

Thanks for speaking with us today, Rosie! We look forward to seeing your food truck around town.

Our success story entrepreneur

The logo for Mission Boricua is a red, white and blue five-pointed star above the name of the company.

Rosie Ortiz

Owner of Mission Boricua, offering authentic and exciting Puerto Rican dishes


San Francisco native Rosie Ortiz currently offers catering services that include her unique empanadas and famous cilantro dipping sauce among other Puerto Rican delicacies.


Mission Boricua | www.missionboricua.com

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All views and opinions expressed by the entrepreneurs interviewed are their own and do not represent those of Bank of the West WE Source, Bank of the West, or its affiliates.