It’s important for us to represent Every Kind of Curvy year-round, this includes people of all races, gender and size.
Celebrate the beautiful, complex, and diverse people that make up the Hispanic community year-round! Remember, not everyone who is Hispanic is Mexican. Make time to educate yourself on a different country and culture that makes up the Hispanic & Latinx communities.
We're celebrating Hispanic Heritage year round & highlighting local business BLVD MRKT, ran by husband-and-wife powerhouse Barney & Evelyn Santos.
BLVD MRKT is an artisan food hall built out of shipping containers and a repurposed brick building. Located in Downtown Montebello, you’ll find a collection of 10 emerging local restaurants that focus on quality craft food and beer made by the community for the community. (Which we love!) They’ve been featured on NY Times, KCRW, Spectrum News, Eater, Thrillist, & LA Taco.
We had the honor to chat with Evelyn Santos about what inspired this spark of wanting to revitalize this city that’s just 15 mins from Downtown LA. Evelyn shares advice for other entrepreneurs who may be first generation to ever dream anything like this, and what’s next! Thanks for reading, we hope this conversation inspires you!
What is your story, Evelyn? Share any information about yourself and your background. What inspired you & Barney to start BLVD MRKT?
Hola, my name is Evelyn Santos, I am a native Angeleno, born in Boyle Heights and raised on the eastside in the San Gabriel Valley. I am a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first generation college graduate that attended San Diego State University. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I moved back to Los Angeles. I lived in Downtown LA for five years. While living in DTLA, Barney (my partner in life & business) and I were inspired and dreamt of opening our own family business. Fast forward to 2012, we decided to move to Montebello; intuitively I knew it was time to leave DTLA, something was calling me to go back to the city I grew up in, the city where my abuelita and dad migrated to from Mexico.
As soon as we moved and settled to our new home, we quickly found that there was nothing to do in this city. We went from living in a city where we could walk to grab dinner and drinks, to a city that had empty storefronts and abandoned buildings. One night while sitting on our couch, we came up with the idea of our current business, BLVD MRKT. We were inspired by our experiences while traveling, living in DTLA and also by Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Container Project in Las Vegas, NV. That’s where the idea of using shipping containers came from. The way Tony built culture, community and sustainability was amazing. We knew we wanted to bring that vibe to Montebello and so the journey began.
In 2015, after doing a lot of research, Barney and I made it official and built Gentefy, inc. At Gentefy, our mission is to build strong local economies by investing in people, places and programs that empower creatives to answer the demand of Latino communities. BLVD MRKT is our first development under Gentefy; we developed, designed and curated every aspect of this space.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs who may be first generation that want to start a business?
Follow your intuition. When I left DTLA, I had no idea that it would lead me down this road, but I knew that something was calling me to make the move to Montebello. So many decisions we have made for our business have been through gut instinct. If something feels right then do it, and vice versa, when things feel off, don’t do it .
Find people that believe in your vision. When we were raising money, a lot of VC’s and investors did not believe that investing in Latino communities was worthwhile. In their words, “it was too risky.” After a year of trying to raise money, we found our amazing investors. They all believed in our vision and continue to do so.
Be Relentless and Patient. Good things take time. From the seed of our idea to our grand opening, it took us six years. So many sacrifices were made in those years, but we stuck with it and quitting was not an option.
What’s next for you two?
BLVD MRKT is the first of many more projects/developments to come. Through Gentefy and our mission guiding us, we plan to continue creating other projects/developments and investing in more Latino communities. We are already having conversations with other cities. Stay tuned!
To our reader: Whenever you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to stop by BLVD MRKT. Support local and within LA County, the people of the community will benefit from your visit, so thank you.