Chile Lindo - A Small Business with a Big Vision
Paula Tejeda is the award-winning proprietress of Chile LIndo, an empanada restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA. Paula is a native New Yorker of Chilean ancestry with strong multi-cultural insight and commitment to community.
"A small business with a big vision!" — Paula Tejeda
I love small, neighborhood restaurants with big taste, so I was eagerly anticipating eating lunch at a place called the “Best Hole in the Wall” for a square meal by San Francisco Magazine. I arrived envisioning a tasty empanada and meeting Paula, the delightful owner of Chile LIndo, a tiny storefront eatery in the historic Redstone Building on 16th & Capp in San Francisco’s Mission District. I departed, not only dreaming of the tang and fragrance of the savory traditional Chilean spice from my Goooool Al Merken beef empanada, but also totally inspired by the woman known as “The Girl from Empanada”.
“Our artisanal empanadas are handcrafted with top quality, locally sourced ingredients for your gourmet tastes,” noted Paula
Chile Lindo’s empanadas and sweets are baked fresh daily in small batches with goods sourced from local small businesses. These classic Chilean empanadas de pino are prepared with top grade, sustainable ingredients such as Niman Ranch beef, free range chicken, and non-GMO Yves Meatless Ground, flavored with spices imported directly from Chile, raisins, olives, a bit of hard-boiled egg, and accompanied by a side of “pebre”. Comida muy deliciosa!
Shown above is a Goooool Al Merken empanada accompanied by the Chilean spice, Merken, a blend that starts with the native Chilean goat horn pepper.
“Hole in the Wall” doesn’t begin to describe the radius covered by this small business.
Chile Lindo is more than just a popular empanada shop. It is an icon born of time, hard work, quality, longevity, and the exceptional character of its proprietress, Paula Tejeda, who candidly confided the ways in which she brings mission to The Mission.
“A little business like mine, we serve a community that has suffered a lot of hardship. Day to day, we aren’t just selling empanadas, we’re providing a cup of coffee, or hot water for a homeless person’s Ramen, quarters for the parking meter, a source of local employment, or an ear to listen to the misfortunes borne by many local residents. Small business owners end up playing the role of social workers, emotional coaches, sidewalk sweepers, and teachers. We are like non-profits providing real services in the overall community, without the perks.”
“Our mission is to serve as a one-stop-shop, a viable conduit in networking, marketing, outreach, and production, to multicultural North and South American projects between San Francisco and Chile,” Paula observed.
Paula’s dream is to open up more opportunities for Chilean chefs as well as import other speciality items produced in South America. By creating a source of consumption in the U.S., Paula can assist with opening and developing markets in South America for phenomenal products produced in Chile by small entrepreneurs who cannot produce in quantities large enough to be picked up by a larger U.S. distributor. It’s a global, visionary win-win.
Photo credit Francisco Vial Brown, a Chilean photography student, showing Paula with the Chilean flag
“Kiva’s 0% interest loans — it’s enormous. It’s huge! I find Kiva such an important resource because they promote your business and include you in their community,” declared Paula.
On her relationship with Kiva, Paula says, ”Kiva doesn’t just provide funding for equipment and rent, they also provide working capital. Other programs won’t do that. Working capital is a critical component that every small business needs. Small businesses like Chile LIndo are at the crux of what makes San Francisco a cultural hub and a cosmopolitan city. But we are slowly but surely being priced out of the city — at risk of extinction. Kiva loans give us hope that we can continue to do business.”
Paula Tejeda is shown above with Kiva US team members who visited Chile Lindo, l to r Corey Chang, Junho Hyun-Sack, Katie Powers, Ale Pena, Jonny Price, Claire Marsh, Mary Perkins, with photographer Somya Thakkar
“Small business owners are dependent upon their community of supporters,” Paula acknowledged
”Small business owners are on a hamster wheel, running out of steam day by day, trying to manage and grow a business at the same time. We need resources and hand-holding — not just theory, but people who are willing to lend a hand to support us with on-site assistance, help getting an intern, writing a marketing or business plan, or making connections to potential investors. Don't be afraid to offer support!”