Guadalupe (Lupe) Guerrero: El Pípila

guadalupe guerrero of el pipila
Photo: Nicola Parisi

Guadalupe (Lupe) Guerrero

El Pípila

879 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA

Joined La Cocina: March 2012. Graduated: November 2018

On the menu: carnitas and carne asada tacos; pozole verde; chicken sopes.

Guadalupe (Lupe) Guerrero, who was born in Acámbaro, a small city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, left Mexico in 1988 in search of a better life for herself and her two young daughters. She landed in Berkeley and found a job in a taqueria, working long hours, six days a week, for $5 an hour. After about a dozen years, she’d saved enough money for her daughters to join her. With the encouragement of a friend, La Cocina alum Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, whom she also worked for, she decided to start her own food business and apply to the La Cocina program. Guerrero launched at Off the Grid before starting a kiosk at The Hall, a pop-up dining  space in downtown San Francisco that closed in the fall of 2017. In November 2018, she opened her own restaurant, El Pípila. The restaurant is named after a Mexican folk hero, considered a guardian of Guanajuato, Guerrero liked the idea of being a guardian of flavor from her homeland. in the Design District; her two daughters work alongside her.

[Guerrero’s daughter Brenda Juárez translated for her mother and spoke on behalf of the restaurant business.]

EdibleSF: What did you learn from being part of La Cocina?
It takes time and a lot of hard work to make it in the food business. You have to really want it. The program motivates you to create the best brand you can for your business. And it’s a very supportive community. Whatever we needed—from kitchen equipment to grants—La Cocina helped us with all kinds of resources, including connecting us with pro bono services and in-kind donations towards building out the restaurant.

EdibleSF: What have you learned from others in the program?
Everyone motivates you to be your best and they lead by example with their success. People like Alicia, Reem, and Nite, we can relate to their effort, we know how hard it is, and we are happy for and look up to their success and see the value in pursuing your dream.

EdibleSF: What’s your greatest take-away from the program?
With hard work and the right support, you can make it in the restaurant industry in San Francisco. It’s not cheap and it’s not easy, but if you find the right situation, it’s worth it and you’re capable of doing it. And La Cocina is like family. They’re always going to be there to help you if you need it.

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Note: Read the story on the design and construction of the El Pipila restaurant space by Neal Schwartz of S^A | Schwartz and Architecture.  S^A’s work on the project was recently nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award for restaurant design.