If you’re a self-identified “foodie,” San Francisco is a great place to live. From Michelin-star dining at Acquerello to jumbo-sized Mission burritos at Taqueria La Cumbre, there’s a wide range of options in this city to titillate your taste buds.
However, one particularly tasty neighborhood is often overlooked: Bayview-Hunters Point. Serving up dishes ranging from juicy ¼ lb burgers to delicious southern-style Chicken-and-Waffles, the chefs of this southeast San Francisco neighborhood don’t always get the acclaim they deserve.
If you’re hoping to try a taste, four women-owned Bayview restaurants are joining forces this weekend: Creative Ideas Catering, Pepitos Paletas, Semilla, and Aroma Buena Cafe. Together, they’re whipping up specialty take-out meals showcasing flavors from Colombia, Mexico, and El Salvador with some of the most popular items from their different menus. Meals are available for pre-order or walk-up until they sell out on Saturday, March 20.
“I wanted to do something to celebrate Women’s History Month, and thought it would be a good idea to get together with other women so we could spread awareness about our businesses,” says Lina Mills, owner of Creative Ideas Catering. She’s been serving up global Latin dishes, influenced by her Colombian roots, for over 25 years, and she’s owned her catering company since 2013. This summer, she’ll be opening a cafe in San Francisco’s neighboring Silver Terrace neighborhood. “It’s great to be able to celebrate all the traditions of our different cultures, from Colombia to Mexico to El Salvador, with traditional foods,” she says
The restaurants are each part of a network created by the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, which has supported socially and economically diverse entrepreneurs through business planning classes, small business incubators, technical assistance, and loans for 35 years. The organization has four centers in Bayview, SOMA, East Palo Alto, and Richmond, though they also do many off-site entrepreneurship classes and workshops. According to their website, they’ve helped open more businesses than any other non-profit in the Bay Area.
The last year has hit small restaurants particularly hard. At least 17 prominent San Francisco restaurants have closed since the start of the new year alone, on top of at least 68 in 2020. For Mills, who’s business mainly relies on catering large events and offices, opportunities for work nearly came to a standstill.
“It’s been the most frustrating thing in the world, because everything was put on hold,” she says. Social media, she says, was a huge help — all four of the businesses are very active on their respective Instagram pages, taking orders and answering customers’ questions through the platform. “I don’t want to say business disappeared, because luckily enough I did have some people reach out and help us through it, but I had to pivot throughout the year.”
Interested customers can choose a pick-up time on Saturday that fits their schedule. Moving forward, Mills hopes she can continue hosting take-out events every month, inviting different women-owned restaurants to take part. Updates will be posted to her Instagram page.