L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

Juan and Neris Gonzalez, owners of the two Tamales House restaurants in San Fernando Valley
The South Valley BusinessSource Center (BSC) assisted husband and wife team Juan and Neris Gonzalez with finding COVID-19 financial relief grants that helped them keep their Tamales House restaurants afloat during the pandemic.

Located in North Hills and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley, the Tamales House Restaurants gained popularity for using quality ingredients for cooking the traditional Mexican dish. The couple, who are also business partners, said that part of their success is due to an authentic tamales recipe Juan learned while studying gastronomy in Mexico, along with the work experience he gained as a waiter for high-end restaurants in the late 1990s.

"Before starting our business, my wife Neris and I sold tamales to local body shops and factory workers," Juan said. "We always had good feedback and our clientele grew. We believed in our product and decided to open a restaurant."

Neris and Juan opened their first restaurant in North Hills in 2005. When they were ready to open a second restaurant in 2017, Juan sought assistance from the West Valley BSC. West Valley staff helped him develop a solid business plan which enabled him to secure a $50,000 small business loan. The staff also helped to plan the grand opening, producing marketing materials that they distributed to clients and the community. Juan and Neris successfully opened their second restaurant that December in Reseda.

Sales for both Tamale House restaurants continued to increase over the years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Neris and Juan were uncertain about their future.

"No one knew how long the lockdown would last," Juan said. "The rent was due and we had to close and lay off the employees in both locations."

With both restaurants closed, rent, utilities and payroll costs accumulated. Juan began to seek financial assistance and was referred to the South Valley BSC. In September 2021, he started working with Senior Business Advisor Yoryana Aguilar, who advised the Gonzalezes on various relief grants to help their business recover from COVID-19.

With the help of the South Valley BusinessSource Center, Neris and Juan applied for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. They were awarded a $25,000 grant that helped them cover rent expenses, retain 16 full-time jobs and create an additional four jobs to help with the increased holiday demand. The South Valley BSC also assisted Neris and Juan in successfully applying for the City of LA Comeback Checks Program. They received their $5,000 grant in early December 2021.

"The South Valley BusinessSource Center has done a great job helping me keep my doors open. Because they have gained my trust, I definitely will recommend them to friends and family who own businesses," Juan said.

The Tamales House restaurants are located at 7622 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335 located in Council District 4 and 15404 Nordhoff St, North Hills, CA 91343 located in Council District 7.

EWDD’s BusinessSource and WorkSource Centers offer a variety of Business Services, including several Financial Programs and Development Incentives for businesses of all sizes. Learn how EWDD can help.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of January 3, 2022. Read this issue and more.

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