La Cocina, a San Francisco food-business incubator for women and immigrants of color, has launched five businesses in UC Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
Although located in the ASUC student union, the restaurants are open to general public, reflecting La Cocina’s mission of financially supporting entrepreneurs and formalizing connections to their communities. Berkeley’s new businesses were voted in by students, and include: Old Damascus Fare, a Syrian refugee family that prepares traditional Syrian food. A Girl Named Pinky, run by an Oakland native who makes baked-goods from scratch. Noodle Girl, featuring noodles and soups from the south of Vietnam. Pinky and Red’s, a mother-daughter duo serving “soul food on a sandwich” and El Mesón de Violeta, offering a mix of Chilean empanadas, history and activism.
La Cocina’s incubator program emphasizes general access to markets as both a mechanism to increase revenues for participants and support visibility in a crowded and highly competitive marketplace. Their partnership with UC Berkeley is equally as convenient as it is exciting; the kiosks provide an existing infrastructure that doesn’t require any significant build out, meaning new businesses can open up shop without needing tremendous start-up capital.
// La Cocina businesses can be found at ASUC Student Union in the MLK Jr. Building at 2495 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 94720 (located in Sproul Plaza) weekdays from 11 am - 3 pm. Complete menu offerings are here studentunion.berkeley.edu.
Christopher is a contributing writer located in the East Bay. He is likely to be found in any of San Francisco’s parks with his mutt, Leia, sunglasses on face and book in hand.