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Meet Rob Rowe and Rhonda Reynolds of Masa of Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rob Rowe and Rhonda Reynolds.

Rob and Rhonda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a little boy, my Mom would take me to one of her favorite restaurants for cabbage soup, Kip’s, owned by Rhonda’s grandparents. We like to say our eyes met across the crowded dining room when we were toddlers, though we didn’t meet until years later in college – at a restaurant where Rob was cooking buffalo wings and Rhonda was waiting tables.

We started early. Rob found his passion for cooking working the fryer line at a Brown’s Chicken in Chicago at the age of 14 and Rhonda began working when she was 12, for her neighbor’s concession stand business grilling hot dogs and steaming buns. There were forays along the way…Rob played bass for the Wax Trax band Wreck but it always came back to a love and passion for all things food. And of course, Chicago Deep Dish Pizza…

We moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in the mid-90’s and opened our restaurant, Masa of Echo Park, five blocks from our home in Echo Park in 2004. We have both held every position imaginable – at too many restaurants to name – before opening our own.

It gave us a good grasp on what we wanted for our own place – the tenants and structure of a corporate restaurant with the sensibility and warmth you can only find in a Mom & Pop joint. We work alongside our Masa Family of “kids” so we are very much the Mom and the Pop in that sense. If they aren’t in it for the long run, our hope is that everyone in our Masa Family’s next step is fulfilling their dream of what they hope to do with their lives. Masa is our dream – and they all share a part in that.

Has it been a smooth road?
We started Masa with nothing – no investors – no savings – just the dream. It was basically, “how can we cash advance some credit cards to get the space and get started”. It was a crazy thing to do. Echo Park at that time had a lot of boarded up store fronts so we really had nothing…and everything to lose. Rob’s mantra was basically Field of Dreams-esque “if you build it they will come”.

For the first 3 years, not a lot of people came but there was a group of diehard neighborhood folks who were hell bent on helping us succeed. They would come every day and eat lunch – then come back and eat dinner. Now our mission is to be sure to get these very special people a table – right away – on a crowded Saturday night!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Masa of Echo Park is a “Mom & Pop” family owned restaurant specializing in Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.

The impetus has always been that everyone who comes to Masa feels as if they are Guests in our “home”. Our greatest joys have been first dates and chance meetings that have turned into proposals, weddings, celebrations & babies on the way. Our goal has always been to feed our Guest’s stomachs (of course) and hopefully their souls as there is no greater thing that brings people together than enjoying a meal with family and friends.

Our Guests are the most important thing to us and inviting us to share in their lives has given such extraordinary meaning to ours. For that we are so grateful!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a big city but there are pockets and neighborhoods that have a “small town” feel and a real sense of place and presence.

Echo Park is one of those communities – historic, classic urban, a cultural melting pot, proudly political and outspoken.

Our hope is that the city of Los Angeles as a whole address, in a profound and forward-thinking way, a caring and thoughtful solution for our ever-increasing homeless population and affordable housing for all. This is vital for neighborhoods such as Echo Park to thrive without losing a sense of place, presence and history.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Roman Roze
Holly Liss

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Roni Love

    December 20, 2017 at 02:22

    Mazal tov, you two! We are all so proud of you!

    Roni Love💜

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