The three ingredients that have made Raul’s Cocina a success are family, tradition and love. Raul’s Cocina, a local vegan Mexican food restaurant in Phoenix, is a business rooted in history and the bond of family. Anna “Salsa” Salazar, owner of Raul’s Cocina, spent the majority of her childhood in the kitchens of her nana (grandmother) and tias (aunts). The aromas, rhythmic noises of pots and pans all sparked feelings of joy and happiness for her. Anna’s earliest memories are centered around the tortillas they would make and the salsas and hot sauces they would use to add some flare to their family favorite dishes.
Cooking is not only something the Salazar family did as a pastime, it was also their career. Most of Anna’s family worked for restaurants in the community that are considered local staples. From a young age Anna learned not only to love and appreciate food, but also to make it herself. Perfecting her family’s recipes even before she even got to high school, Anna began to add her own signature touch. Becoming widely known for her salsas, Anna became the “go-to girl” for hot sauce & salsa at work luncheons, community events, and parties. Her salsas became such a hit that a friend told her that she had hot sauce in my veins, and that’s when she became known as Anna “Salsa” Salazar.
It wasn’t until years later that she began contemplating the idea of opening up a business and start selling her beloved recipes. For her there was no greater joy than the desire of knowing what it took to open your kitchen to the public. In talking with her son Vincent, he encouraged her to take the step and follow her dreams. Named after her father, who she attributes her genetic gift of making great salsa, she opened up Raul’s Kitchen.
Initially, the company was solely focused on making and selling salsas at a Farmer’s Market every weekend. Every weekend her salsas would sell out and people started becoming regulars. As her popularity soared, she began to introduce vegan Mexican cuisine. Her motivation to expand grew from her desire for vegan’s to be able to enjoy the flavors of the dishes she loved growing up.
Unfortunately, as was true to many businesses, COVID had incredible impacts on the ability for the business to move forward in a successful manner. With restrictions and the closure of the farmer’s market, Anna was left with little resources and help. Having to adjust and pivot in order to ensure that she was keeping herself and her customers safe, Anna was struggling as profits decreased. She feared that her dream would have to come to an end and that she would have to go back to being a full-time rideshare driver once again. That all changed when Amber Cordoba, Director of Business Education and Consulting Services at Prestamos and loyal customer of Raul’s Cocina, emailed Anna to let her know of the services she and her team provided.
One of the resources Amber mentioned was a grant being provided by Prestamos in partnership with Wells Fargo for restaurants to help keep them afloat during this trying time. The grant was enough to not only help Anna continue to stay in business but also to ramp up her production and sales. It was because of this grant and the help of Amber that Raul’s Cocina is now more successful than ever. “I couldn’t believe it. Normally I am the one looking out for people and sending them information on resources and for someone who doesn’t know me personally to care about me and my business the way Amber did is just amazing.” says, Anna.
Prestamos exists to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs through their journeys. We are a mission-driven entity that operates under the non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa, which provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects. We invite you to visit our website, prestamosloans.org, to learn more about our efforts and apply for a business loan.