SUCCESS STORIES -- Regalito Rosticeria, San Francisco


Thomas Pena

Thomas Pena had spent several years refining family recipes and, as he was preparing his restaurant project, he traveled for months in Mexico researching new menu items and cooking techniques. He also had studied baking and pastry at the California Culinary Academy.

In 2005, Thomas took every one of the San Francisco SBDC’s Restaurant Series classes. Whether it was “Checklist for Starting a Restaurant,” “Understanding Food Costs” or four other restaurant classes, Thomas was there. He also took Quickbooks and Strategic Marketing classes from the SBDC. That year he began to work with the SBDC’s lead restaurant consultant. Meetings with SBDC consultants continued into 2006 as he prepared for his opening.

The SBDC worked with Thomas on every part of his plan. When he found a location on18th Street in the Mission area of San Francisco, they reviewed his build-out plans and helped him understand the demographics of that area and, as well, his citywide market. In September and October of 2006, as he prepared for opening, the SBDC restaurant PR consultant helped him “create the buzz” for a strong opening.

Regalito Rosticeria launched in November, 2006 and the Grand Opening coincided with Mexican national holiday “Dia de los Muertos” or Day of the Dead. Thomas has historically hosted a very large celebration from his home to celebrate the holiday, including hiring staff from the Culinary Academy to help him prepare and serve some of his signature dishes including some of the bestempanadas found in the city and his Mole which, even prior to opening his restaurant, has been a favorite dish within his foodie circle of friends.

Thomas is now able to host his anticipated celebration from his beautifully designed restaurant (Bradford and Martinkovich.) This year, instead of his artist friends creating the altars, Regalito’s staff will be decorating the niches that were specially designed for that purpose. To add an even more exciting layer, Thomas is hosting the after party for the De Young Museum who is in turn working with Mia Gonzales, the curator from Encantado in producing an exhibition for Day of the Dead. Regalito will also be presenting some of the artists at his restaurant.


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