Good Food for a Better Life: Served2Enjoy
- Video Caption: Spring Sports
- Video Duration: 02 : 10
On the corner of Avalon and 47th Street, a small, wood-paneled restaurant is mostly surrounded by apartments and car shops. Served2Enjoy is an anomaly compared to its surroundings in Los Angeles' District 9 — a healthy alternative to its residents.
“Around us, I can't really find a place that I can tell you [that] sells vegetables – fresh vegetables, not frozen ones, that you just put in hot water,” said Ariana Sanchez, co-owner of Served2Enjoy.
Initially a catering service started by her husband, Luis Sanchez, the restaurant functions as an alternative for past and new customers to experience nutritious food.
“That's why I decided to open a place so that if [past customers] really like it, they can go there with family [or] with friends to enjoy the food,” Luis said.
Still a popular gourmet catering business, Served2Enjoy offers a variety of pre-packed food items, including wraps, burgers, pasta, and salads. Comparatively to the restaurant side of the business, Ariana said that there is more variety in what customers can order, and the possibilities are “endless” when choosing catering.
“We are really open to whatever our clients' needs and wants are,” Ariana said. “A couple of months ago, we catered a bar mitzvah, and they wanted a baseball-themed party. We took our grills, we took our equipment, and we did the stadium type buffet where it was like the garlic french fries, regular french fries, chili hot dogs, corn dogs we had a popcorn machine.”
Being raised in Mexico, Ariana said food was an integral part of her daily and familial life up until she moved to America at the age of 10.
“Growing up with my grandma, it was almost like a ritual. There was a certain respect for food, just so many traditions in the way you prepare every single dish. It's different than here. I came here to live with my mom in the states, and here it was just sort of like a way to survive,” Ariana recalls.
Attendees at the Young Black Leadership Summit cheering President Trump. CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
Similarly, Luis wants this mindset to translate to the food he creates. The majority cost of an item on the restaurant menu is $6 despite the food being made from scratch and with fresh ingredients. Luis said it's not about the money but instead what it does for the community.
“I just want to make a difference, have a better life, have my kids have a better life and also give an opportunity for people to try good food with less money,” Luis stated.
I just want to make a difference, have a better life, have my kids have a better life and also give an opportunity for people to try good food with less money.”
Luis doubles as Served2Enjoy's chef and has an extensive history in the food industry, holding positions from kitchen manager to head chef. Creating healthy options for the neighborhood is Luis' top priority.
“Everything is fresh, everything usually gets prepared a day before – marinated and what have you – and then cooked the next day. So food quality and freshness, it's a big deal for us,” Ariana said.
Served2Enjoy's clientele is as diverse as its menu, welcoming everyone from city employees and families to nurses and doctors.
“It's been very interesting to see that we're attracting people who are used to eating vegetables and healthier options and are very glad that we're there and people who haven't really been introduced to that kind of food that we're serving are slowly accepting us and trying out our food and realizing 'Hey, this is actually not bad,'” Ariana said.
Luis shared that customers trying out their restaurant and recommending it to friends are the main drivers of their business.
“Right now, the place [where] we are at, we're new there, so one person goes there, they like the food, and they come back with another five people,” Luis said.
According to Ariana, the most challenging aspect of expanding their catering business to a restaurant has been learning the ropes of the industry afresh. Although there is no definitive date in mind, they both hope to expand their restaurant to full service and rent space for customers to hold events.
“Luis and I don't come from a business background or families that are wealthy, but we do come from backgrounds where hard work was instilled in us,” Ariana asserted. “You work hard for what you want.”
Luis and Ariana want to instill this way of thinking in their two children just as their families taught them when they were younger.
In expressing her guiding principle, Ariana stated, “The goal is always for your kids to do something greater than what you do so, giving [our kids] the skills and knowledge to do that is important.”