Today we’d like to introduce you to Mercedes Rojas.
Hi Mercedes, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My whole life I’ve been surrounded by food. Both my parents are excellent cooks and as much as a cliche as it sounds, I know I got it from them. Once my time came to go to college, I wasn’t sure what I was going to study so one of my friends convinced me to go to culinary school since I was already always cooking at all our weekend gatherings. So sure enough, he was right. As soon as I stepped into the culinary arts school, I was hooked. I knew that was all I wanted to do. I worked for fifteen years throughout the United States cooking at all my favorite places and under people I admired, but it wasn’t until I got to Los Angeles that I felt at home. Working at Lucques under Suzanne Going was my favorite experience… and there I found my connection between my home town Venezuelan food and California. When my time at Lucques came to an end I asked my brother if he would venture with me and open an arepa stand at the farmers market in mar vista. Without hesitation, he said yes and we went right into it. Not knowing much about people’s reactions to Arepas in LA… this was a success in day one and most important… it made us happy.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road has not been smooth at all. I think when you run your own business, you start realizing things that you didn’t understand from previous bosses and kind of start feeling related. We have good and bad days, doing pop ups becomes very strenuous on your body… all the physical labor and the wear and tear of things…. and also the weather can play a big part in our routine. However each service is different and with it comes a different challenge that we learn from.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about The Arepa Stand?
We are known as The Arepa Siblings. Brother and Sister from Venezuela who started cooking Street Food from their home town inspired by Los Angeles. We like to shop at the farmers market and enjoy the seasons that this beautiful state has to offer. Our Arepas are made from gluten-free organic corn and stuffed with different ingredients. I had the idea to open this business with my brother Zeus and although he had never worked in the food industry, I always admired his taste in branding and he was the perfect match in this venture. Zeus made The Arepa Stand unique by naming all our different arepas in relation with LA cities and highways… this made people feel at home and it broad us a really diverse clientele.
Zeus’ design and marketing is fun and unique… he really emphasizes on Venezuelan culture but makes sure it is inviting to everyone.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
I always say this but the most valuable thing I have learned from this business is that the support you have from family and friends is everything.
Also knowing that there is something to learn from everyone you come across… a customer, a friend, an employee, even if someone who just gives you an idea you don’t even like… pay attention to all of it because it will spark something.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: thearepastnd.com
- Instagram: thearepastand
- Facebook: the arepa stand