LOS ANGELES — Opening a cozy restaurant in the city of San Fernando wasn’t Theresa Granados’ first business. The COVID-19 pandemic’s indoor restrictions forced her to close her eight-year-old bakery for good.

Inside a cozy San Fernando restaurant, you’ll find Theresa Granados checking in on customers, orders and making sure her staff have what they need. After all, this isn’t her first business.

"I still had my lease on my building, and I just thought, 'I’m going to make a comeback,'" she said.

In 2022, Granados reopened the space as Lola’s Kitchen, offering all-American comfort food. Things are running well for her, she noted. She’s since hired eight employees.

“[It’s] a little nerve wrecking sometimes because you are responsible. I mean, they are relying on me for their paychecks,” she said.

Granados said it was a challenge to get financial institutions to take her business plans seriously. About one in four women faced a financial setback in 2020 and 2021, according to the 2023 Report on The Status of Women and Girls in California by Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles.

The report also found the largest number of women-owned businesses in the nation here in California, totaling at about 1.5 million. Women also made up for nearly 40% of businesses in the state.

Maria Salinas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, believes supporting these businesses will lead to more jobs.

"The business of any economy is to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible," she said. "Here at the chamber, we’re committed to creating those pathways to make sure that women are included, whether it’s through procurement or whether it’s giving them technical assistance."

Business owners can find many no-cost assistance programs through the Chamber of Commerce, city, county or other organizations, Salinas added. For Granados, she’s hoping her restaurant will lead to more open doors.

“I would love to eventually expand, a second location or franchise," she said.