How long have you been in business?
At Bazaar Del Mundo, since 1971. Prior to that I owned the Design Center, doing both commercial and residential interior design. I established and developed Bazaar Del Mundo in the middle of Old Town, and when my lease expired in 2005, I bought the plot of land where we’re currently located. I started planning for the move in 1995, first buying the block on the corner of Juan and Taylor, then the building where the shops are now located.
How many restaurants do you own?
In addition to Casa Guadalajara, we’ve reopened Casa De Pico in La Mesa, Casa De Bandini in Carlsbad, and a new one, Casa Sol y Mar, in Del Mar Highlands.
Is your husband in the business with you?
Brent is in real estate and he found the properties that we’ve developed. But I operate Bazaar Del Mundo independent of him.
Have you encountered any problems as a woman in this business?
I really haven’t. I believe it’s an even playing field, and if you approach it that way, you don’t have problems.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business?
When I lost the lease on the state park location. I was prepared, though, and I just moved forward. I took it as a wonderful opportunity to regenerate and redesign, because what I love is the creative process.
How many employees do you have?
About 500, many of whom have been long-term employees. We’ve all grown up in the business together. Some of the staff have moved to new locations and we’ve added staff as well. They were such a foundation, which has helped me a lot. One cannot do this alone. You choose the right people and you learn from their strengths. They have all contributed to the development of the business.
Have you had mentors?
A design professor at SDSU was my number-one mentor. The classes that I took with her helped mold me. Others were people I worked with in the early days: Robert Peterson, Richard Silberman, and Robert Golden.
How do you mentor others?
Mentoring is very expansive. Working with employees is mentoring them and inspiring them, whether it’s their business, their ethics, or their style. I’m blessed with having a very solid employment base. We need a variety of talent, and it’s so important to let them use that talent.
Do you sit on any boards?
I serve as chair of the design committee for the Old Town Chamber of Commerce and I’m on the San Diego Restaurant Association board. I’m working on ways to enhance our community, though we have very little funding to draw from in Old Town. I’m also involved in equestrian events and working with different nonprofits that care for horses and save them from being slaughtered.
How do you spend your leisure time?
My husband and I raise horses and we travel all over, showing them. We’ve been all over the country. We enjoy being together and always try different restaurants while we’re traveling; I come back filled with ideas for our restaurants.
Any plans to slow down?
No, not at all. This is enjoyment to me, because I love what I do.