Josefina Lopez Throws a Fiesta
Boyle Heights Cinco de Mayo grand opening for noted writer and arts community leader's CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina
Josefina Lopez, the award-winning playwright and screenwriter, the creator of the pop culture play and film, Real Women Have Curves, and the Founding Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater celebrated her 30th Anniversary as a writer with the Grand Opening of CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina in Boyle Heights, CA on Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2017 by hosting a Free Fiesta.
Published on LatinoLA: May 8, 2017
Local dignitaries from Mayor Eric Garcetti's and Councilmember José Huizar's offices, along with members of the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce, Board Members from CASA 0101 Theater and members of the general public were in attendance to celebrate the occasion.
Now Josefina has added the title of Restauranteur to Résumé. Although primarily universally known as a writer, Josefina is also a Culinary Chef who graduated with a Supreme Diploma from the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. She has also attended the New School of Cooking in Culver City where she studied cuisine with a California touch and making pastries, as well as the Gourmandise Cooking School in Santa Monica, where she studied chocolate making, bread making, pasta making and pastries.
Josefina has now joined forces with three other business partners and immigrants like herself, Executive Chef Augustin Alvarez, and Restaurant Owners, Alonzo Ricardo and Emmanuel Deleage, to oversee CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina, a celebration of color, women and Mexican cuisine!
During the Grand Opening Ceremonies Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero presented a Certificate of Recognition to CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina on behalf of Mayor Eric Garcetti, as she spoke about how she was so happy to have a new restaurant like Josefina's to dine at.
Rocio Hernandez, Area Director for Councilmember José Huizar, presented CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina with a Certificate of Recognition; she mentioned how nice it was to have CASA FINA within close proximity to Josefina Lopez's CASA 0101 Theater, also located on First Street in Boyle Heights.
Alan Sanchez, President of the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce welcomed CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina into the neighborhood and wished them much success. Members of CASA 0101 Theater's Board were also in attendance including: Martín Olvera, Beatrice Ochoa and Gabriela López de Dennis.
Noted Actor Johnny Ortiz and Artist Juan Solis were also in attendance. KPFK 90.7 FM's The Pocho Hour of Power did a live remote broadcast from CASA FINA on Cinco de Mayo with on air talents Lalo Alcaraz, Jeff Keller, Patrick Perez and Esteban Zul, overseen by producer Gary Baca. Mariachi Las Colibrí and Guitarist Erik Gavica entertained guests as they enjoyed Complimentary Tacos, Aguas Frescas and Cake.
Josefina (pictured with Emmanuel Deleage) said: "My motto and mantra at CASA FINA Restaurant and Cantina is: Life is a fiesta, so wear bright colors, eat great food and dance the night away! Our mission at CASA FINA will be to provide an excellent experience through exceptional personal service to our patrons by serving them delicious fresh food, with a unique, warm and vibrant atmosphere that leaves them inspired and feeling alive. Our vision at CASA FINA is that we are part of the 'Artistic Renaissance' and a celebration of the best of Boyle Heights: it's people, food and culture."
López continued: "CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina is located at 1842 E. First Street in Boyle Heights where Serenata De Garibaldi Restaurant used to be. CASA FINA is within walking distance to CASA 0101 Theater located at 2102 E. First Street, at St. Louis Street. I had a lot of beautiful moments at Serenata De Garibaldi when it was a brand new restaurant. It inspired me to open CASA 0101 Theater, giving me confidence that having a theater in close proximity to a fine restaurant would be good for business for all involved. And that's exactly what happened! We plan to continue that synergy between CASA FINA and CASA 0101 Theater, and to provide entertainment as well, at the restaurant, for our customers."
The opening of CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina also coincides with the 30th Anniversary of Josefina's beginning as a writer, when as a 17-year-old student at Los Angeles High School for the Arts she wrote her first play, SIMPLY MARIA, Or The American Dream, which launched her successful career as a renowned American playwright and screenwriter.
A Pay-What-You-Can production of her play is currently being presented at CASA 0101 Theater through May 14, 2017 supported by a grant from The California Endowment. The production is in collaboration with the Building Healthy Communities initiative in Boyle Heights, "Invest in Youth" campaign, and features 20 youth, primarily from Boyle Heights.
CASA FINA Restaurant and Cantina is located at 1842 E. First Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033. House Specialties include: Ceviche, Fajitas, Molcajetes and Desserts. There will be art on the walls at the restaurant, including exhibits by artists and painters, such as: Juan Solis, Margaret Garcia and Emilia Garcia. The artwork will be a celebration of women and women painters, including Chicana/o artists, Latinos and women.
Josefina elaborated by saying: "CASA FINA will be different from Serenata de Garibaldi because although we will be serving Mexican food with a modern twist, we will be a Family Dinning Restaurant where everyone is welcome. We want people in the Boyle Heights community to know that our prices are affordable and within the reach of the residents. We were conscious to not contribute to the gentrification already plaguing Boyle Heights. My goal has always been to make theater accessible and now I want to make this restaurant accessible to the Boyle Heights community and all those outside of Boyle Heights who love authentic and fresh Mexican food. Yes, there are many Mexican restaurants in Boyle Heights already serving delicious Mexican food, but I promise the friendly atmosphere and fiestas will be the best at CASA FINA."
López continued: "Our Daily Specials will be my opportunity to create with Chef Augustin Alvarez special dishes and invent Chicana/o cuisine. I also want to have wine tasting events so the Boyle Heights community can come try our wines and learn about Mexican wines from the Valley of Guadalupe in Baja, CA where our wines will come from. We want to support Mexican wines by serving them in our restaurant. In the future I want to create Special Events like Speed Dating, Stand Up Comedy Nights, Open Mike Nights, Bohemian Nights, Karaoke Nights and create many opportunities for Boyle Heights residents to try their hand at performing in front of a crowd. I even want to have Paint Nights with our featured artists teaching people how to paint as they sip our wine. It's going to be exciting and action packed in our Cantina!"
CASA FINA Restaurant Hours of Operation will be: Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. for both Lunch and Dinner; Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.; Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. including Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., including Sunday Brunch from 8:00 a.m. – 12 Noon.
CASA FINA's Cantina will be open from 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays with a limited Happy Hour Menu. The restaurant will feature daily specials. Valet Parking is available in the alley behind CASA FINA. The phone number is 323-604-9592.
The E-mail is: email@example.com
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Please visit us online at, www.casafinarestaurant.com, to view our entire menu, including Act One – Breakfast, Act Two – Botanas/Appetizers, Act Three – Entrées, Climax – Especialidades/Specialities, Resolution, Postre/Dessert and Beverages – Hot Drinks, Cold Drinks, Wine Margaritas, Draft Beers and Wine.
About The Restaurateur and Executive Chef:
JOSEFINA LOPEZ (Restaurateur of CASA FINA Restaurant & Cantina) is best known as the writer of the award winning play and film, Real Women Have Curves and Founding Artistic Director CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights. She was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and was brought to the U.S. by her parents when she was just five-years-old. She grew up in Boyle Heights with her seven siblings and didn't discover she was undocumented until she was 14 when she found out her older sister couldn't go to college because she was undocumented.
Josefina López was a "Dreamer" long before that term popularized the struggle of undocumented youth wanting to go to college. She rebelled as a teenager by refusing to heat tortillas for the men in her family because she found it sexist for the men to sit and eat while the women had to cook for them and just eat the leftovers, (a Mexican custom from her region of Mexico). So she swore she would never go into the kitchen to cook for a man. Her parents were working class and could not afford to take the family out to a restaurant. Being large her family could never sit together at the kitchen table and eat together.
She loved going to restaurants the few times her parents were forced to take the family when they were traveling. When she turned 18 and left to study at New York University, she loved going to different types of restaurants. López enjoys having great meals with friends at restaurants and prides herself on having a sophisticated palette for all sorts of tastes and textures. She is a "foodie" and has visited many Michelin star restaurants in Paris, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Napa.
When López was living in Paris with her French-American husband Emmanuel Deleage, who is CASA 0101's Executive Director, she finally decided to enter the kitchen and attend Le Cordon Bleu to study French Cuisine. There she obtained a Supreme Diploma in Cuisine and was inspired to write a culinary and erotic novel titled Hungry Woman in Paris, which was published in 2009 (available for sale at CASA FINA and the Kindle version on Amazon).
In France López got to appreciate the amazing selection of French legumes, vegetables, cheeses and wines. She even got to visit Rengis, the largest food market in the world just outside of Paris and was astounded to see cheeses as large as tractor wheels, vegetables not available in the U.S. and every type of fowl meat and foie gras. She also took a wine course at Le Cordon Blue and got to visit the wine regions of Champagne, the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Bordeaux. As well as being a Chef, López also trained in floral design and took several classes in bread making, pastries and chocolate in Paris and Los Angeles. She loves taking cooking classes and has studied pasta making and Thai cuisine basics.
She also attended the New School of Cooking in Culver City where she studied cuisine with a California touch and making pastries, as well as the Gourmandise Cooking School in Santa Monica, where she studied chocolate making, bread making, pasta making and pastries.
López is so excited to try her hand at Mexican cuisine with Chef Augustin Alvarez and to also bring her mother's classic dishes to share with her guests. She is comforted by knowing that although her favorite restaurant Serenata de Garibaldi closed, that she will continue to celebrate Mexican Cuisine at CASA FINA, Serenata's old location. Josefina López loves Boyle Heights and is excited by the nightlife the restaurants and wine bars on First Street have created. She wants to create a fun ambiance for young Boyle Heights residents to party the night away at CASA FINA's Cantina.
Josefina López has hosted many parties, weddings and loves to do party planning to create unforgettable experiences for her friends and guests. She takes great pride in knowing she started many Limbo competitions and Conga lines that brought people from different cultures together to join in a Conga line where everyone forgot their differences and language barriers and danced and sang together in Rome! Josefina López's philosophy concerning dining is that food and the ambiance must make you feel alive so that you can be present to how great life already is. Life is a fiesta, so wear bright colors, eat great food and dance the night away!
AUGUSTIN ALVAREZ (Executive Chef at CASA FINA) was born in San Jose por Poliuptla, Guerrero, Mexico and came to the U.S. 17 years ago. His grandmother, Abuela Bernardina who raised him, taught him how to cook all the traditional Mexican dishes. Alvarez began as a dish washer at Mimi's Café and worked his way up to a Cook in the three years he was there. He learned to cook classic American dishes as well as French cuisine. Alvarez also worked at Hot n' Tont restaurant in Torrance and at Omelettine where he worked as a cook for three years. Alvarez was finally promoted to Chef and started working for Restaurateur Alonzo Ricardo at his first Great Mex restaurant in Newport Beach for four years. He went on to work at the second Great Mex restaurant in Long Beach and then continued working as a Chef at the Fiesta Mex restaurant in Stanton, CA specializing in Mariscos/Seafood for seven years. His philosophy for making delicious food is, "I only serve what I would love to eat."
About The Restaurant Owners:
[b]ALONZO RICARDO,[/] was born in San Jose Poliutla Guerrero Mexico, and since he was very young he had aspirations to become a business person and took business courses in High School. In 1989, Ricardo arrived to the U.S. at the age of 18 and studied English. He began to work at a Japanese restaurant and grew to love Japanese food.
When he started working at LA LINEA Coastal Mexican restaurant serving black beans and green rice, he realized that people didn't want fancy beans and rice, they wanted regular fried beans and rice. That's when he realized that he could make lots of money selling Mexican food because he ate beans and rice all his life and didn't think it was that great. He worked at several Mexican restaurants until he opened his first restaurant in Newport Beach in 2002 called Great Mex, serving tacos, fajitas and enchiladas.
At first he had a hard time building his business in the Balboa Peninsula area, but slowly his restaurant got popular with the locals. He opened his second Great Mex restaurant in 2007, then another one in 2007 in Costa Mesa and the third one in Long Beach. In 2009 he opened Fiesta Mex Grill in the City of Stanton and in 2010 he opened El Torazo in Long Beach. Ricardo opened a fourth Great Mex in Costa Mesa in the Mesa Verde neighborhood in 2011. He opened a second El Torazo in the city of Long Beach in early 2013.
He is currently working with Emmanuel Deleage on the first EL TORAZO DELICIOUS TACOS in the city of Bellflower, which will be a Taco Drive-Thru. CASA FINA is his first restaurant with Josefina Lópea and Emmanuel Deleage. He credits his mother for his interest in restaurants because she was always working in hospitality and aspired to open a restaurant one day.
EMMANUEL DELEAGE is also the Executive Director of CASA 0101 Theater, a few blocks from CASA FINA restaurant. When Serenata de Garibaldi abruptly closed, a Boyle Heights iconic location, he reached out to his friend Alonzo Ricardo, a restaurant operator, and owner of the Great Mex restaurants in Long Beach and Orange County, to see if he wanted to partner on re-opening a restaurant at this location. Being so close to CASA 0101 Theater, the two ventures seemed like natural partners. CASA FINA, the name, combines two loves of his life, CASA 0101, the theater, and Josefina López, his wife. He hopes to honor the legacy of Serenata de Garibaldi while creating new memories at CASA FINA over great food and in a great ambiance.
Celebrating Josefina López:
In celebration of the historic beginning of award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Josefina López's career 30 years ago in 1987, CASA 0101 Theatre, Youth Play Production proudly presents The 30th Anniversary Production of SIMPLY MARIA, Or The American Dream, which was written by Josefina López as a 17-year-old student attending the Los Angeles High School for the Arts, where she was a member of the first graduating class.
Under the direction of Corky Dominguez and Edward Padilla, the 55-minute one-act play will be presented at CASA 0101 Theater, 2101 East First Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033 on Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m., through May 14, 2017. Admission is Pay-What-You-Can. For tickets and further information, please call CASA 0101 Theater Box Office at 323.263.7684, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or buy online at www.casa0101.org.
SIMPLY MARIA, Or The American Dream explores the cultural and familial expectations of a young Latina making choices between pursuing college ambitions, getting married, or securing employment. Maria finds herself living in dual cultures – the Mexican ways of her former homeland and the newfound liberty of the USA.
The cast includes: Paolina Acuña-Gonzalez, Maria "Mary" Aguilar, Erika Alvarado, Alondra Andrade, Madison Aranda, Destiny Comacho, Erick Chajon, Valeria Flores, Angel Marie Galvan, Erik Gomez, Angel Leonel Gutierrez, Mia Hernandez, Salvador Hernandez, Alejandra Peguero, Leslie Prado, Alana "Lana" Rosado, Adam Torres, Erick Valenzuela, Daniel Velez and Angel Victorino. The Production Team includes: César Retana-Holguín (Scenic Design), Julius Bronola (Costume Design), Kevin Eduardo Vasquez (Lighting Design), Vincent A. Sanchez (Sound Design) and Cristina "Crispy" Carrillo-Doño (Stage Manager).
The play, SIMPLY MARIA, Or The American Dream was first produced by the California Playwright's Project in San Diego, CA in 1988, under the direction of Luis Torner. The play was then produced for television on KPBS, San Diego, in 1990, directed by Luis Torner. In 1992 Luis Valdez's Teatro Campesino presented a Revival of the play directed by Socorro Valdez.