From dreamer to business owner
For Ines Garcia, whose family migrated to the United States in the early ‘90s, spreading community and love through good food is in her blood. Her mother is one of 10 children who together own and operate Tacos El Rey restaurants in Yakima and Moses Lake — and are now passing along the tradition to their children.
With that family heritage, Garcia knew early on that she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and own her own business one day. In 2010, she started on a path that would make her dream a reality. She enrolled at Big Bend Community College and earned her GED before relocating to Yakima and transferring to Yakima Valley College, working towards a business degree.
Garcia found support, mentorship and encouragement from YVC College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Director Marivy Vasquez.
“Ever since I met [Marivy] she has been an inspiration for me,” said Garcia. “When I first met her, she was going for her bachelor’s degree it helped motivate me to want to continue my education. I know that if I ever return to school, she’ll be there for me.”
According to Garcia, in her culture women are sometimes discouraged from pursuing education and careers in favor of more domestic roles, yet her experiences at YVC help empower her and want to be a role model for others — and ultimately help change this cultural stigma.
“I want to be an inspiration to our Hispanic culture. A lot of Hispanic women are more scared to pursue careers and goals and I want to help change this.” — Ines Garcia
“As a student I was able to attend the Students of Color Conference,” she said. “For me it was a very motivating experience to see more Hispanic and children of color trying to achieve higher education.”
When she became pregnant with her fifth child, Garcia put her education on hold and focused on raising her young daughter. In 2016, ready to start her own restaurant, she opened a location under the Tacos El Rey name in West Valley.
“After the pandemic things just weren’t the same,” said Garcia. “In 2021 I made the decision to close the restaurant and downsize, rebrand myself and start over.”
The result is Garcia’s Kitchen, a catering business and food provider located inside Valley Brewing. Garcia’s Kitchen also has become a favorite vendor for the YVC community, helping support several college events including recent admission-related events and supporting the CAMP program.
“Ines is always willing to work around my budget when it comes to catering for my CAMP events,” said Vasquez. “I recommend Garcia’s Kitchen and am glad to help share her great success.”
For Garcia, this work and the connection to campus is something that fills her heart. In addition, her experience working with the college as a vendor has helped her improve her business.
“I think YVC helped prepare me to be more efficient because with YVC you have to follow a criteria and a schedule,” she said. “You must be on point with that schedule. There are things that are part of the program, part of YVC, about how they want things done, how they follow the rules and regulations. As a caterer I learned more about prepacking meals. For CAMP, especially, all the meals have to be individually packed and it’s helped me on a better routine to get our meals ready.”
Ultimately, Garica hopes to return to YVC and complete her associate degree. She also plans to continue supporting the college and students in pursuing higher education.
“I am honored and proud of what I’ve done,” she said. “I want to be an inspiration to our Hispanic culture. A lot of Hispanic women are more scared to pursue careers and goals and I want to help change this. I can bring my Mexican culture through my kitchen and continue to make people happy. I have had to do this on my own and I hope my story helps motivate others.”