LOS ANGELES — The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with many restaurants closing their doors and even more employees without work. This led to more pop-ups and food trucks opening to serve their unique eats.

Sara Valdes, the owner of Sara's Market, said she wants to help these small Los Angeles businesses.

"We see ourselves as a family," Valdes said.

The East LA market has been in her family for 60 years, but when Valdes and her husband took it over, they decided to sell local products to connect with the community.

"We are a family business, so we try to get a lot of local people who are also family-owned businesses," Valdes said.

Now during the pandemic, she is taking it a step further. She noticed many furloughed restaurant workers were starting their pop-ups, and since her neighborhood doesn't have many fresh food options, she wanted to use her space to bring these new concepts to the area.

"I think it's a time for us to come together, so I don't exclude anybody. We are here with open arms. Welcome to the Sara's Market family. Welcome to the lineup," Valdes said.

Now, the owner allows food trucks and other vendors to sell in front of her store.

"It does help us out because people do get to notice who we are, get to see we are still here in business. And then it also benefits the vendors because people in the community now follow them to different locations," Valdes said.

Alex Fultz, the L.A. street-style barbecue truck Uncle Al's BBQ owner, said he is grateful for Valdes' and her husband's support. Fultz noticed the demand for to-go food, so he thought it was the perfect time to open his truck. He launched in January and immediately reached out to them.

"It's heartwarming that someone would open up their space to somebody they don't even know. It's been great since we started, and I can't imagine leaving honestly," Fultz said.


He said small pop-ups and trucks have been coming together to support one another during the pandemic because it's hard to gain a following and even find a location.

"It's one of the first places that welcomed us as a weekly kind of thing. It's great for us. Anybody in the food truck industry knows that sometimes parking or finding a spot to sell is a hassle," Fultz said.

Valdes said she wants to take at least one thing off their plates so small businesses can focus on just staying afloat.

"We don't care if you have one follower or 1,000 followers. It doesn't matter. We are just here to extend that help. We have the space and are willing to provide it," Valdes said.

The pop-up schedule can be found on Sara's Market's Instagram.