Samantha Sanchez, class of 2010, is a proud entrepreneur and restaurant owner of La Luna, a Mexican restaurant located in Chicago’s vibrant and historically significant Pilsen neighborhood. “After working nearly every role from busser to bartender to Marketing Manager in the restaurant industry since I was 15 years old, I knew that I wanted to take on the challenge of opening up my own restaurant and bringing my ideas and concepts to life,” says Sanchez.
La Luna, located on 18th and Racine, opened its doors in January of 2019 and offers an ever-changing menu that features signature tacos, unique small plates and new-age twists on the Mexican dishes that you know and love.
As an avid supporter of the Pilsen community, Sanchez knew just how important it was to create a concept that stayed true to the community and helped to retain its Mexican culture. “As a female Latina restaurant owner, I am a big advocate for culinary equality and hope that in the future we will see more minority women in positions of leadership,” says Sanchez, “throughout my time at Trinity I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by and learn from such powerful women that taught me that my dreams were within reach. I hope to be able to be that person and help young women in the restaurant industry move into leadership positions and express their ideas and creativity through food.”
2020 has been an incredibly difficult year and the restaurant industry has been heavily impacted. Now more than ever, restaurant owners are having to continue to make quick changes and adapt their concepts in order to survive. After only having La Luna’s first year under its belt, Sanchez has had to think both creatively and strategically to find new ways to keep her restaurant operating while also helping the Pilsen community. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we decided to offer free Menudo for people to come and pick up. This was a way for us to help our neighbors during a challenging time and simultaneously it resulted in our neighbors showing their generosity through tips that went to our employees,” says Sanchez, “whether it is changing our menu, our seating, or our hours, we are doing everything that we can to think on our feet and stay open during these challenging times.”
La Luna’s latest creative solution, Chi.Pie.Guy, is a pizza pop up that will be operating out of the space until indoor dining is able to resume. “My chef Marco and I were talking about what we could do to keep the lights on during these winter months and he happens to make the most incredible pizzas from scratch so we quickly worked to create the menu and marketing for the pop up.”
Even though this has been a challenging year, Sanchez is still very optimistic about La Luna’s bright future. “My team and I have been able to work together to overcome so much this year. I am confident that while times are difficult now, we will come out of this stronger,” says Sanchez. “La Luna and the Pilsen community mean the absolute world to me and I have loved being able to see so many Trinity alumnae come through our doors. There is nothing quite like a Trinity friendship and I feel lucky to feel so supported by such an incredible community.”