Coachella’s Santa Fe Restaurant Named Small Business of the Year

The Santa Fe Restaurant, which has been in Coachella City for 14 years and has a second location in Cathedral City, celebrated its recognition as the 2022 Sacramento Small Business of the Year winner last week.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, chose the local Mexican restaurant for the accolade, and owner Pedro Padilla attended a special ceremony hosted by the California Small Business Association at the state Capitol, where he received an official certificate.

“It was a surprise,” Padilla told the Desert Sun. “At the base, the members of the assembly designate the companies according to their region, but I would never have thought that we would be among those recognized.”

Although the restaurant offers a unique twist on classic Mexican fare, with flavors from Padilla’s hometown of San Juan De Los Lagos in Jalisco, Garcia said Santa Fe particularly deserves the honor of going “above and beyond.” in his service to the community during the height. of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California State Assembly has recognized the Sante Fe restaurant in Coachella as the 56th Assembly District's Small Business of the Year for helping the local community during the pandemic.

In March 2020, the restaurant organized a local assistance program in which it distributed food to medical personnel, farm workers, the elderly and the homeless to provide relief from the pandemic.

“We didn’t know what to do with the food at first. I think it was a Friday when we had to lock ourselves in and we had just had a food delivery. A lot of workers (from Santa Fe) brought food home, but we still had too much,” Padilla recalls. He said it was his idea to prepare and distribute the food to people in need, but luckily his employees volunteered to help. to help.

“Thank God I had everyone’s support. I had donated food before, but not at this level and not with the help of my workers and family. We really appreciated it and we got it.” ‘ve been doing for over six months,” Padilla said.

Santa Fe’s giving spirit has only grown during the pandemic. Once the US government began offering assistance due to COVID-19, Padilla said he and his restaurant team halted food distribution and began providing laptops to young students stuck learning to home, drawing on both personal funds and donations.

“People in the Coachella, Mecca (and) Thermal areas were telling me that they only get one tablet or computer per household for their kids, so I thought it was a good idea to try to donate computers to kids who didn’t have one,” Padilla said, estimating that the restaurant donated about 40 laptops in four months.

Padilla believes helping the community is key to owning a business.

“It’s sad to see that some business owners only care about making money,” he said. “For me, giving back to the community is important because without it, without local customers, I couldn’t have my business.”

Coachella's Sante Fe restaurant has been recognized as California's 56th Assembly District Small Business of the Year for helping the local community during the pandemic.

In acknowledging Garcia of Santa Fe Restaurant, he said he was proud of Padilla’s contributions to the economy of the Coachella Valley “and his big heart for giving back to the community.”

“Santa Fe Restaurant has stepped up to support seniors, struggling families and our essential farm workers during the pandemic. The food aid program they started saved many locals from hunger,” Garcia said. “They were one of the first restaurants in the state to step up to provide this kind of delivery service. of food, and they did so without hesitation or expectation of a refund. We hope this award expresses our deep appreciation for the Santa Fe Restaurant and its community leadership.”

He also called Padilla the embodiment of the American dream, highlighting how he went from being a dishwasher when he arrived in the United States 22 years ago to owning his own restaurant.

Padilla said he remains committed to various charitable causes in the valley, including support for citizenship aid and graduate scholarships.

“The truth is that we never expected anything in return. But this recognition, which is not only mine, but that of all the staff, made us proud and made us talk about the continuation of the restaurant Santa Fe. We don’t want the donations to stop,” Padilla said.

Eliana Perez covers the eastern Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElianaPress.

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