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Community Highlights: Meet Raquel Rodriguez of Seedy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raquel Rodriguez.

Hi Raquel, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Hello~* I’m one half of Seedy which is the tiny LA diner concept that was shaped from my life eating in Los Angeles as a 3rd generation Angeleno and my professional experiences. Earlier this year Nikko Cruz (my business/life partner) and I started our food pop-up under this concept to move forward as the first step toward building out Seedy’s permanent home.

My culinary story started after I moved from LA to Boston in 2013 for a PhD program after getting my BS in Microbiology. Once on the East Coast I quickly realized was that Mexican food there was very different from Los Angeles and one of my favorite soups (pozole) was almost non-existent. I had gotten very homesick, so cooking was my coping mechanism for loneliness and anxiety in my life back then.

In 2016 I took a leave from my graduate program because of anxiety and general dissatisfaction. At that point, I decided that maybe I could convince a restaurant or two to hire me with zero hospitality experience to see if restaurants had something for me. At one of these jobs, I worked mostly alone in the basement as dishwasher/prep cook but learned so much about professional cooking/knife cuts during my shifts with the prep chef(lead), Marcin. At that same time, I worked both front of house (dinner server/counter service) and baking prep at my other job at Juliet in Somerville, MA. There I learned about “personal cooking”, kind service and good management. From these experiences, I realized that hospitality was where I felt more myself and creative.

In 2017, I decided to move back to Los Angeles to be closer to my family and throw myself into the culinary scene here. Out of dumb luck and perseverance, I was able to work in some of the most sought-after restaurants in LA (Sqirl, Majordomo). Working then, I always knew in the back of my mind what I wanted to learn because my goal had always been to open up a small restaurant in my forever home of Lincoln Heights.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nothing is ever perfectly smooth and very rarely do things come smoothly to me. There have been many times that I would head into work in the past and feel incredibly uncomfortable because of toxic work environments involving bullying and a general lack of compassion towards learning and mistakes. Including making judgments about a person because of their demeanor without looking at what they produce or their work ethic is something that’s happened to me more often than I’d like. I hold these experiences with me to remember what I don’t want to perpetuate.

I once heard at a discussion about how to survive opening a restaurant that being comfortable with disappointment is basically the number one attribute you can have as a business owner. So, I always keep that in mind.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Seedy?
Seedy is a tiny (diner) breakfast/lunch spot that embodies LA cuisine that uses a lot of seeds (seedy). We are trying to be a bridge between the fast food that is all around and the higher end/health food culture of LA. I make most of the dishes vegan or vegetarian inherently and meat is typically included in one offering or a side option on each pop-up menu. We want our food to feel comforting, fun, and accessible.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
We believe in the dishes that we produce and we’re inventive without being too much. That first bite is all you need to hook you on Seedy~

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