2020 has been hard on everyone in LA’s restaurant industry. Brittney Valles, owner of the award-winning Guerilla Tacos, chronicled a day in her life last July opening her Arts District restaurant’s dining room, only to have indoor dining temporarily banned again hours later. Today, Valles credits her strong team for keeping Guerrilla Tacos’ doors open.
“If it wasn’t for my chefs and managers, I would not have survived,” Valles says. Forced to cut the majority of a nearly 70-person staff early on in the pandemic, she’s learned how to make do with less and adapt to the changing times. She also draws support from other women in LA’s restaurant industry, particularly Dina Samson, owner of nearby Rossoblu, and Melissa Koujakian, the operations director of Republique in Hancock Park. “[Koujakian] taught me the importance of boundaries and professionalism,” Valles says. “She showed me how to get things done.”
Prior to the pandemic, Guerrilla Tacos depended on high-volume counter service. Now, it’s transitioned to full service, with a more leisurely, elevated menu to match. “For many, we were the only escape from home,” she says. “It was on us to make every guest feel thrilled and special.”
The accomplishment she’s most proud of, however, is watching her employees at Guerrilla Tacos move on and pursue higher education or a new career. “I feel a strong sense of pride being a stepping stone to the lives of many amazing people as they take on the world,” Valles says.
Since her first years working at Guerilla Tacos the industry has changed, and so has Valles, who’s found her voice as an advocate for small business owners. The big challenge now, she says, is to keep that progress going for future women in restaurant leadership.
DoorDash believes that supporting and advancing women-owned businesses is an ongoing effort that demands action. Action we can take with our product, voice, and resources, including the partners we choose. DoorDash is proud to partner with RE:Her, a local LA nonprofit created by women-owned restaurants, that is committed to advancing women in the restaurant industry through mentorship, resources, and small business grants.