County’s First Microenterprise Home Kitchen is Southwestern SBDC Client

Tres Fuegos Cocina owner and Southwestern College SBDC client Diana Tapiz is interviewed for TV news after she became San Diego County’s first microenterprise home kitchen operation (MEHKO).

The title of San Diego County’s first official microenterprise home kitchen operation (MEHKO) went to Diana Tapiz, owner of Tres Fuegos Cocina and client of the Small Business Development Center hosted at Southwestern College.

Southwestern College is home to the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network lead center as well as the network’s South San Diego SBDC. Tapiz worked with one of the SBDC’s business advisors, Marisa Castaneda, to help launch, sustain and grow her small business.

Thank you so much for being there with us on such a monumental day for our business,” Tapiz said when Castaneda filmed Tapiz gaining her business’ MEHKO status. “The SBDC has played a huge role in our success.”

Tapiz described how she achieved the restaurant she dreamed of inside her home. She added how she’s grateful for the many SBDC resources available to her and to the county’s MEHKO program, which helped her launch her recipes to a larger audience. And she noted the MEHKO process is good for small business owners and good for San Diego.

Tapiz calls herself the “humbled business owner” of Tres Fuegos Cocina, and she happily shares how the SBDC helped her grow her business in many ways.

“It established goals for me to follow,” she said. “Going into the food business, I had no idea where to begin. I had no idea where to start. It was an amazing choice that I called (SBDC).”

A friend had told her about the SBDC, and Tapiz said she was lucky and grateful to meet Castaneda, who guided her through the process. 

Tres Fuegos started as a home-based business, but eventually expanded to work out of a commissary kitchen for a while. All the while Tapiz considered how best to handle the restaurant business and current environment.

“We wanted to see what people thought of our food, and it just boomed,” Tapiz said.

Tapiz has worked with her advisor, attended SBDC workshops and training series, gone through educational curricula, as well as managed the roller coaster of the pandemic — from business plans to relief funding.

“Don’t hesitate, call them,” Tapiz said of the SBDC. “They will help you. They will guide you. And they will give you a map for you to follow. I would have taken a longer time figuring that map out if I would not have come to you. And you’ve given me this beautiful map.”

Visit SDVISBDC.org to sign up for the San Diego & Imperial SBDC’s no-cost small business services including one-on-one advising, training workshops and resources. Plus learn about the college’s Center for Business Advancement, including the Women’s Business Center and small business government contracting support.