La Cocina was born out of a belief that a community of natural entrepreneurs, given the right resources, can create self-sufficient businesses that benefit themselves, their families, their community, and the whole city. La Cocina (pronounced la co-see-nah, meaning “The Kitchen” in Spanish) was inspired by its current home, San Francisco’s Mission District. This ethnically diverse and economically vulnerable neighborhood that thrives in part due to the many small informal businesses that serve the community. Food lies at the heart of this community, and you don’t have to look far to find hidden entrepreneurs in the kitchens of many homes.
Recognizing a need to formalize these food businesses and the opportunity created when you turn inconsistent and illegal home restaurants into sustainable legal businesses, organizations like Arriba Juntos, The Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment and The Women’s Foundation of California and one very special and visionary anonymous donor created La Cocina. La Cocina is both the space-a modern building and commercial kitchen that has been featured in Metropolis Magazine—and the program—an innovative business incubator that supports a growing roster of small businesses.