After years of hard work and perseverance, Paula Lara has carved out a special niche for herself in the Las Vegas food scene. Originally hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, home to some of the finest traditional dishes in the world, Paula knew from a young age that she wanted to have a career in the culinary field. She took a huge leap of faith when she moved from Mexico to the United States nearly twelve years ago, knowing that making this voyage was essential to realizing her dream of owning her own business. Today, her hard work has paid off: The Flavor of Life food truck boasts a fresh, authentic menu showcasing a fusion of different cultures inspired by Mexican, Mediterranean and American foods.
But Paula’s dream didn’t materialize overnight. With her inspiration and ideas mapped out, she still faced a difficult uphill battle. She had no capital to start her business and was declined for a loan at several financial institutions because her credit was not high enough. Luckily, a local community banker referred her to Accion. With a small business loan with Accion, Paula was able to buy a food truck and additional equipment. “The food truck gives us the ability to go many places. If you own a food truck you have more flexibility and opportunities,” she says. In addition to operating as a food truck, The Flavor of Life offers cooking classes, catering and food delivery services, and their menu includes a diverse range of dishes, from Guadalajara classics like mixiote de carnero and tacos to European fare like spiced meatballs and chicken cordon bleu.
The food truck is doing well, with Paula running operations with her husband and two employees, but Paula admits that she still faces daily challenges. “It’s impossible to do everything—sometimes you need help,” she remarks. Accion is proud to provide that additional support through their partnership with Samuel Adams. Through the Brewing the American Dream Program, Samuel Adams and Accion are able to provide loans, coaching and networking opportunities to food and beverage entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can also access free financial advice as well as training in areas like social media, package design, HR and dozens of other small business topics. To take The Flavor of Life to the next level, Paula is looking forward to working with a Samuel Adams mentor in the areas of online resources and business expansion.
In the future, Paula hopes to expand her business by purchasing additional food trucks. Although it’s only been two years since Paula opened her business, she has already reaped so many rewards of working in the culinary industry. She is deeply touched by all of her loyal customers and notes, “When you have a long line of people waiting for your food and when they compliment your services, that makes me happy.”