As restaurants and business leaders begin to open their doors to the public, they have a difficult task ahead. They feel a responsibility to bring their staff back to work while still helping to ensure public safety. Navigating that kind of situation requires strong responsible leadership skills. That is why we have selected Tucson native, chef and owner of Boca Tacos y Tequila Maria Mazon as our May #LeadHership spotlight.
"The owner in me...the responsible owner that has to pay bills is like, 'The faster, the better', but the concerned citizen in me doesn't want to risk my team, my customers or myself."
Like all good leaders, Maria knows her crew is the heart of her operation. During the early part of the shutdown, she began selling locally produced t-shirts. Half of the proceeds went to help support the nearly two-thirds of her staff that had to be furloughed. The other half went to buying more shirts. She also took the time to cook for her staff every day, ensuring they had enough to eat.
Most new restaurants close during their first year of operation. Seventy percent of those that make it past the first year close their doors in the next three to five years. Maria will be celebrating 10 years in business this month, and there is a good reason for that. The restaurant has been featured on The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, The New York Times, USA Today, The Travel Channel and many more.
Maria views her work as art and draws a lot of inspiration from her grandmother and her large family. She said she loves watching others have a good time and enjoying her food. A big part of her success comes from her love of the challenge and keeping her head high.
"I like to think of myself as a duck. Cool and collected on the surface, while the real work goes on underneath."
Over the last several years, the industry has seen a big rise in female chefs and restaurant ownership. More than half of the restaurants in the US have women as owners or co-owners and as much as 45% of restaurant managers - but 19% hold chef positions. If Maria could say one thing to women looking to become leaders in the industry, she would say, “Work hard, keep your head held high, be hungry, be humble and do what you love.”
Thank you, Maria, for all you are doing for our community in this challenging time!