Success Stories

Maria Gonzalez, Cali Dawg

For Gonzales, the kitchen has been the glue that keeps her and her family together. “Whenever there is a family gathering, we are making la abuela’s recipes or we are making her enchiladas.” said Gonzales.

After graduating culinary school, Watsonville native and Salinas resident, Gonzales started working in restaurants and corporate kitchens in the SF Bay Area. When Gonzales returned to the Central Coast, she wanted to do something new and started a small cottage industry where she made natural soaps and other bath and beauty products.

Her experience in the food industry prompted her to change her diet and became vegan. As a vegan, Gonzales wanted to promote a healthy household, so she began developing a vegan sausage recipe to provide her family with plant-based options. Gonzales had her friends and family try the product and with great success she decides to open a vegan based business.

Gonzales found El Pájaro CDC and began to formally pursue her business idea with the help of our Kitchen Incubator Manager, Cesario. Gonzales received assistance with creating and perfecting a business plan and began the process of applying to work in our Commercial Kitchen Incubator.

At the end of 2019, Gonzales was able to open her vegan restaurant, Cali Dawg.  Since the opening, it has been a great hit around the Central Coast and Bay Area. Her product is being sold at Park Row Café located in Salina City, five days a week.

Gonzales continues to receive support from El Pájaro CDC staff and participates in our farmers market booth and Access to Markets Program.

“Sometimes I have a hard time reminding myself that, hey you did it. The dream, you dreamed it and now you are here, and you made it happen.” Said Gonzales

Success Stories