Javi Sandes was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he started cooking at a young age to help his mother prepare large meals for the family. He helped run a small food business in Argentina before moving to the United States ten years ago to play soccer. His soccer career was sidelined by an injury, so he changed directions and started pursuing food as a cook and server. During this transition, he always prepared Argentinian food for his friends, who encouraged him to start a business.
In 2009, he opened an Argentinian food truck called Primo’s Parrilla with four business partners. The truck and its empanadas quickly gained notoriety. However, the business partners decided to dissolve the food truck in 2011 so Javi struck out on his own. He started Javi’s Parrilla and began selling wholesale to restaurants and grocery stores. In 2016, he opened a popup location at Mad Oak, a popular bar in Oakland. He then moved to a pop-up at Dirty Bird in Hayward. This year, he kept growing and seizing opportunities, signing a contract to serve empanadas at the Oakland Coliseum for A’s and Raiders games, and another to serve at AT&T Park for the San Francisco Giants.
Javi has been working out of a commercial kitchen, but the space will not be able to support this growth. He secured a location in Oakland, but as his business is still relatively young he was turned down for traditional bank loans. He’s worked with CDFIs in the past, including our partners Opportunity Fund and Working Solutions – who referred him to us. We funded him, and we’re excited to see him grow and create jobs and opportunities in the Bay Area.