The #TLTogether series highlights the incredible people who are part of the Tenderloin’s diverse community—neighbors, small business owners, nonprofit workers, creatives, and more. This week, meet Mi Morena mother-daughter team, Guadalupe Moreno aka Lupita (Chef & Owner of Mi Morena) and her daughter, Cyntia Salazar (Executive Director of Mi Morena). Best known for delicious Mexican food that they sell from their family-run food truck, Mi Morena will soon be one of seven La Cocina entrepreneurs that will call the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace their home—just as soon as the shelter in place rules will allow it.
The family lives in an apartment overlooking an alleyway in the Tenderloin, on the same block as the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace (at Golden Gate Avenue and Hyde Street). There is a lot of illegal activity that they see from the alley, and worry about what the kids see from their homes, and the smoke that drifts into their windows, but despite the challenges, they still have a lot of love for the Tenderloin.
As Guadalupe shares:
“One of the things I love about the Tenderloin is the community, and what they are doing to build and support affordable housing. Hopefully, with the opening of the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, things will get better, in terms of cleaner streets, and that more families will be able to be out in the neighborhood, instead of being stuck inside because of what’s happening on the streets.”
Originally from Mexico City, Guadalupe and her husband, Alberto, first came to the United States in 2001 in search of a better life for her family. Since then, they’ve worked together as a family to establish Mi Morena and have since made San Francisco their home. On June 8th, they will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary with their three kids.
That first year, their daughter, Cyntia, elected to stay in Mexico with her grandparents. She was in sixth grade at the time, and as any kid her age would likely feel, she was hesitant to be uprooted. She didn’t speak English, and had mixed feelings about leaving. It was a big transition, to say the least.
Today, Cyntia serves as the Executive Director for Mi Morena, helping her mom with language and business logistics, as well as working in the food truck alongside her dad and two younger brothers. She also works another job as an athletic coach for track, cross country, and soccer.
As Cyntia puts it, “All the employees are basically family. We have some additional staff but my two little brothers and I, we try to help. I have another job and my brothers are in school, but for us, as a family business, we feel like we have to be there. It helps with a lot of the costs in terms of employees, plus we always feel it’s better to have family be there.”
Mi Morena is one of seven businesses selected by La Cocina for its new Municipal Marketplace, which showcases businesses led by women of color and immigrant chefs. While the exact opening date for the marketplace is to be determined, they are scheduled to open with a limited service, with three of the seven businesses operating in there at one time, and on a limited, rotating schedule.
Although the food truck remains closed during the shelter in place ordinance, Mi Morena has stayed busy. They’ve been helping to cook meals for Larkin Street Youth Services and recently prepared a lunch for the TLCBD Clean Team, as part of a TLCBD fundraiser to both support local restaurants and also boost morale for the Clean Team. They are currently filling group orders for family meals and nonprofits, and can be emailed for special requests.
Follow Mi Morena at @mimorenaSF on Facebook or Instagram to keep up-to-date on their latest happenings, and where to get your hands on some delicious food.