Crunch. Savor. Repeat
Chef Loren Johnson launched Lojos Tacos that became the breakfast taco spot.
On any given weekend at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, customers can be spotted at Lojos Tacos’ kiosk crunching into a maple bacon breakfast taco that’s equal parts savory-sweet with a spicy kick of pickled jalapeño topping, or enjoying Loren’s twist on a vegetarian dish--a mushroom medley taco with a dash of lime crema.
But once upon a time, Loren would have never thought she’d open a business. When asked how she began the formal process of business ownership, she mentioned the intersection of college, rugby, and Mariela Cedeño -- who was initially Mandela Partners’ Business Development Director and then became the organization’s Interim Executive Director.
Loren reflects on her experience as she says, “I was just cooking at that point when I met Mariela through a friend, who played rugby with her.” Loren recalls Mariela encouraging her, “Well, if you ever want to take the next step or take it seriously, [Mandela Partners] could help.”
Eventually, Loren took her up on her offer and participated in the Mandela Partners’ Entrepreneurs Program in the Fall of 2020. Even though Loren had participated in several business trainings before, Mandela Partners’ 10-week workshop series was different.
“Mandela Partners went into more detail and broke down the practical application of skills needed for starting a business,” says Loren. “The team was a huge help...Mariela helped me navigate my finances. Sabine took a big weight off my shoulders and helped me unpackage what I needed to do.”
“It’s one of my greatest accomplishments, really, to be able to implement and share values I believe in."
Now, Lojos Tacos is popping up all over the Bay Area.
Through partnerships with Mandela Partners and Foodwise (formerly the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture)--a non-profit organization dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power of local food-- Lojos Tacos is one of several businesses supported by Mandela Partners at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market that is operated by Foodwise.
These partnerships help promote BIPOC entrepreneurs by providing business development resources and opportunities to market-test their recipes.
Because of this experience, LoJo’s Tacos has been able to grow and Loren was able to hire and support people of color in a way that aligned with the values she set forth for her business. Loren proudly states, “It’s one of my greatest accomplishments, really, to be able to implement and share values I believe in. I’m passionate about being a good person, to the best of my ability, in this world, to our earth and to others.”
Loren describes her business as “the gift that keeps on giving,” and her customer following is a testament to that.
What’s next for Lojos Tacos? Loren hopes to open up a food truck or a café one day.
In the meantime, Loren is creating new recipes and perfecting her customers’ favorite dishes at the market. Loren also hopes to inspire other locally owned BIPOC businesses like hers.
“It’s all about taking that first step and signing up for the first class. Once you’re in, you’re in!” Loren shares, “The process is less daunting than it seems, and the resources are there through Mandela Partners.”
Lojos Tacos’ makes breakfast connoisseurs and breakfast skippers alike fall in love with breakfast all over again. We look forward to what’s next for this amazing (and oh, so tasty!) business.
Visit Lojos Tacos at 235 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, and follow on Instagram!