Seed Award Spotlight: El Jalapeño

Loraneli Jimenez if El Jalapeño, a women-owned and family-operated Mexican food business in Kentwood MichiganIn our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their experience as a food or farm entrepreneur, including the passion behind their business, and what motivates them to do the work they do every day. In early 2024, 11 Seed Award winners were chosen to receive seed funding totaling almost $150,000, based on their businesses’ commitment to promoting racial equity, enhancing healthy food access, fostering job creation, and embracing resilient climate practices. 

One of these notable recipients is El Jalapeño, a women-owned and family-operated Mexican food business in Kentwood Michigan. Specializing in authentic Guanajuato cuisine, El Jalapeño began as a mother-daughter dream headed by Loraneli Jimenez that has grown into a beloved establishment known for its homemade dishes and genuine passion for quality. With a new food truck on the way to meet growing demand, they continue to share the rich flavors and traditions of Guanajuato with the community. 

Keep reading to learn more about El Jalapeño and the Guanajuato cuisine taking the community by storm. 

What does being selected as a Seed Award winner mean to you personally, and how does it reflect on the journey of your business so far? 

There are times were I don’t believe that my business is big enough to be seen by big organizations. Or to be seen at all but there are times like these, that make me realize that we are seen and that we have come pretty far in these past 5 years. 

In what ways will the Seed Award funding support your immediate and long-term business goals? 

I am going to use the funding to make a big payment on the loan I took out to buy my new food truck. As well as use some of the funding to go pick it up. 

Can you share your vision for the positive changes this award will enable you to make in your business and the broader community? 

I will be so much closer to paying off my food truck, as well as being able to bring new jobs to the community. 

What led you to start your business? What motivates you to do what you do? 

Being a business owner has always been a dream of mine, I’ve always wanted to have something that I could truly call my own. One of my motivations would have to be hearing all the positive feedback from all my customers, them telling me that their event was made that much better just because they made the choice to work with us warms my heart. 

Want to try El Jalapeño? Visit their website to see where their food truck will be in Kentwood or Grand Rapids, or view online ordering options. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.