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Meet Gabriel Gamez, Alberto Rivera and Enrique Loyola of On The Go LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriel Gamez, Alberto Rivera, and Enrique Loyola.

On the Go LA was born out of the passion of three individuals – Gabriel Gamez, Alberto Rivera & Enrique Loyola – from the South Central LA area with a strong desire to help local restaurants. We formed a mission to revitalize the food industry through age-old, but effective entrepreneurial endeavors from our ancestors in Central America.

Gabriel and Enrique have known each other since their Kindergarten days at Saint Cecilia Catholic School in South Central. Almost a decade later, in 2010, Alberto and Gabriel met in a summer class before their freshman year at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City. Every day after school, not thinking much of it, Gabriel and Alberto hopped on the same school bus and drove back from the lush landscapes of the Hollywood Hills through the murals and graffiti-decorated parts of Mid-City to their homes in South Los Angeles.

Ironically, it is in high school where we all first learned about our roles as privileged students of Latinx backgrounds in the world of higher education with a social responsibility to prove that first-gen, underrepresented kids from the “hood” can also succeed. Our collective experiences as students of color at Cornell, Tufts, and Wake Forest have allowed us to develop a deeper passion for contributing to our underrepresented communities. We are finding ways to work with the networks that we have built over time through higher education and the local connection to our community. On The Go LA is quickly becoming the bridge between what we often felt were two distinct worlds we lived in here in Los Angeles.

A couple of days into the Safer-at-Home order passed by Mayor Garcetti in Los Angeles, Gabriel ran across an Instagram post that read “Dear Taco Trucks: Please consider cruising the neighborhoods like ice cream trucks. Sincerely, Everyone.” It was then that he pitched the idea to Alberto and they started getting to work with Enrique on creating a platform that helped local restaurants in Los Angeles. On The Go LA was created in hopes of forming a new culture that will forge memories for the people living in Los Angeles through food, connecting communities to local restaurants, and helping the immigrant population that takes up a fraction of the restaurant workforce.

We have always thought of the connections and overall unifying value food provided the world. Gabriel’s father, Edgar, would hop on his family’s truck and sell bananas across the dirt-paved roads of Guatemala from the age of 8 until he immigrated to the United States at 18 years old. Alberto’s grandmother’s Salvadoran empanadas always brought the small town of el Puerto de la Libertad in El Salvador together when the town was still not as well-known to tourists and roads were not paved. Enrique’s grandfather created a large pipeline of customers across Santa Rosa Jauregui, a small community in Queretaro, Mexico, where he’s sold his rotisserie chicken for the past 20 years.

With the opportunity to launch On The Go LA in the next couple of weeks, the three of us look forward to uniting our experiences along with the rest of our team to better serve the local communities of Los Angeles and subsequently the United States through the power of food.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Since the idea of On The Go LA was first pitched by Gabriel to Alberto earlier this year, there have been plenty of tough roadblocks along the way to get where we are today – with our launch scheduled for the first weekend of June. Given the fact that the three of us didn’t have prior experience in the food or food truck industry, there has been a huge learning curve in order to fully understand the landscape of both and how it has been turned upside down by COVID-19.

The first obstacle we had to overcome was to understand the feasibility of the idea from a legal perspective. Among our primary concerns were how the process of renting trucks to local restaurants would work and what permits local restaurants would need in order to get onboard a food truck.

Our idea of food trucks roaming like ice cream trucks also led to deep research on our end in order to discover the biggest reasons this had not been done before. We soon realized that while many local restaurants had briefly considered renting a food truck before, the biggest hesitations were related to the amount of gas that would be used, the lack of logistical knowledge when it comes to shifting to a food truck model, and a concern that the new concept of food trucks roaming versus staying stationary (as is most common) might not pan out.

As we gear up for our launch across Los Angeles beginning the weekend of June 5th, we are trying to overcome the biggest final challenge for our launch date: the operations and logistics. The optimal routes we provide local restaurants to roam the neighborhoods of LA cannot add additional traffic congestion on residential streets or bother neighbors. Likewise, we are trying to take every measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through our food trucks including securing a stable supply of high-quality safety equipment such as disinfectant wipes, masks, and cleaning supplies during a time of high demand.

We need all the support we can get across the different neighborhoods of Los Angeles in order to make these local restaurants’ routes on food trucks as successful as possible. Helping us get the word out about our idea can go a long way in allowing the local restaurants we partner with to survive and for their employees to regain a way to support their families.

Please tell us about On The Go LA.
On The Go LA brings local restaurants and customers together in ways others can’t. Local restaurants can take their food to new areas of LA, driving customer engagement, and increasing revenue. Customers can gain more direct access to their favorite & new local restaurants without leaving their house.

“How?” You may be asking.

Well, On The Go LA provides local restaurants an easy way to rent food trucks at the lowest costs & unlike any other service out there, handles full-scale logistics such as route planning for cruising neighborhoods and overall marketing initiatives. When thinking of local restaurants, we are aiming to provide a smooth transition to their time as a mobile vendor. Whether it be for one day or one week, we make it as seamless as possible for local restaurants to get on the go so they can bring their food to new areas of LA, regain a stable revenue stream, and drive traffic back to their location after the pandemic. Our platform will allow local restaurants to view our fleet of available food trucks posted by food truck owners, including their key features, and what type of food the truck is best tailored for. Once a restaurant books their truck, we on-board them with: optimal routes for cruising up to 3 new neighborhoods daily (depending on their goals), marketing assets to spread the word, and access to contactless payments.

Local restaurants, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been extremely limited in their reach since most of the customers they usually serve are within a 3-mile radius of their physical location. Similarly, delivery app service fees are currently very high and restaurants are left buried under hundreds of other restaurant listings. These times have caused restaurants to feel pressure to subscribe to all the delivery apps since they don’t have any alternate streams of revenue. Furthermore, many local restaurants have had to shut down due to the lack of foot traffic during this time and many others don’t have the capital to add additional locations or the infrastructure to avoid delivery platforms.

Our platform will help to support multiple parties that have been affected by the closures of local restaurants due to the pandemic. Restaurants will have the means to use their inventory and remain in business. Employees will retain jobs and be able to help run the food truck. Food truck owners will be able to rent their trucks out to help them meet their monthly costs. Lastly, customers will be able to support small businesses and enjoy tasty, freshly made dishes without leaving their neighborhood or worrying about an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.

We hope On The Go LA helps unite local businesses and customers to make for a stronger community across Los Angeles post-COVID-19. We believe the diverse stories of these family-run restaurants and ours will serve to collectively influence the world.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is an area known for its unique blend of cultures and food is the very foundation that unites the lower-income neighborhoods like ours in South Central and the more affluent neighborhoods spread out on the Westside. Fittingly so, the modern food truck phenomenon began in Los Angeles and the food truck industry has since evolved into a $2 billion-plus dollar industry. Whether you’re a construction worker at the new LA Rams stadium in Inglewood or a tourist strolling through the heart of Downtown LA, food trucks are prevalent and taking on a more noticeable role in our local economy.

While our city is one of the biggest in the country, there is a unique desire in most Angelenos to give back to those most in need and try to make an impact where possible. If you have a true desire and passion to create a positive impact amongst the lives of other Angelenos, then Los Angeles is a perfect place for you. However, there is a need to be accepting of the differences from one neighborhood to another and be open to the amazing diversity that makes this city so vibrant. As three local kids, we have witnessed the spirit of hard work that is so pervasive in this city and if you are willing to put your head down and put the work in then we absolutely recommend starting out here in Los Angeles.

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