myBurbank Talks

Women of Burbank: Patricia Rivera, Owner of Tequilas Burbank

October 19, 2023 Ashley Erikson, Patricia Rivera Season 1 Episode 54
myBurbank Talks
Women of Burbank: Patricia Rivera, Owner of Tequilas Burbank
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of Women of Burbank, myBurbank reporter Ashley Erikson, has the privilege of sitting down with Patricia Rivera, the inspiring owner of Tequila's Burbank. Patricia's journey in the restaurant business is a powerful story of resilience, perseverance, and a deep-seated commitment to community service.

Born into a family with roots in the restaurant industry, Patricia and her husband Carlos have  transformed Tequila's Burbank, highlighting their passion for art through revamped patio spaces and striking murals.

Patricia and Ashley share their personal stories with family cancer, genetic testing, preventative surgeries, and how their common journeys connected them to each other in an effort to create an annual cancer awareness fundraiser event. The event is happening on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023 at Tequilas Burbank and in the episode you can learn more about the event, why it’s important to them, and how your donation and support to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center can impact someone’s life.



For more info on the event follow Tequilas Burbank on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tequilasburbank/

RSVP to attend by texting: 818-516-9250

or donate directly to the fundraiser here: https://capsj.give.providence.org/give/f4223533/#!/donation/checkout


This episode was sponsored by:

Compass Realtors Mike McDonald and Mary Anne Been. https://burbankarealiving.com/ and My Favorite Cleaning Company. https://www.myfavoritecleaningcompany.com

Speaker 1:

From deep in the Burbank Media District. It's time for another edition of my Burbank Talks, presented by the staff of my Burbank. Now let's see what's on today's agenda as we join our program.

Speaker 2:

Hi, this is Ashley Erickson and welcome back to another episode of Women of Burbank. And today I have my friend Patricia Rivera, who owns Tequila's Burbank in Magnolia Park with her husband Carlos, and they are big supporters of the community by putting on fundraisers events and giving back to local charities. Hi, this is Patricia.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for coming. Thank you for having me, ashley, really appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

We have been friends for a very long time, gosh, since I started working in the Magnolia Park area, so maybe 10 years, right, 11 years, 12 years.

Speaker 3:

It feels like forever. Yes, it's been quite a while. I want to say it's more like 12, 13. We've been at the Kiglas for about 13 years, okay, and we met you shortly after.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I came into Magnolia Park when I was pushing my oldest son, who's 15 now, in a stroller. So yeah, it's got to be probably close to 13 years now. So you have been the owners of Tequila's Burbank for quite some time. When you took on that restaurant, what got you into the restaurant space? Have you owned businesses before? What was that experience taking on that establishment?

Speaker 3:

Well, first of all, we both come from families that have restaurants. My parents had a restaurant in Mexico, so I grew up in the restaurant business. Carlos's family also. At one point his uncle had, I want to say, about 15 restaurants in Tijuana Wow, and currently he has maybe about five and so. And well, I worked as a cocktail waitress and a food server Not quite the same as owning a business, but the environment were completely used to it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you've been in the industry so you know it very well. And when you took it over, it wasn't called Tequila's Burbank, it was Tequila's Cantina and Grill.

Speaker 3:

Yes, so we chose to keep the name, thinking, because it had been in a community for years, that it was the best thing to do. In retrospect, perhaps we should have changed it to create our own identity, because a lot of people still get the name mixed up because it's so similar. So we call it now Tequila's Burbank and before it was Tequila's Burbank Grill.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so you changed the name, you rebranded it. What other changes did you make to the restaurant when you came on board? Oh my God, it has been a never-ending. You're always adding things to it. It's like an ongoing thing for you.

Speaker 3:

Yes it's ongoing. So in the very beginning I'm sure you remember because you were there it was very dark, very small. So initially we changed, for example, the booths, we added TVs. The menu had existed for years because actually the restaurant itself has been there probably, from what I hear from people, over 50 years with different names. So anyway, so we basically kept the menu, retweaked the menu and little by little, tried to improve. And in addition to that, when we first started we had seven employees and the whole restaurant and the whole restaurant, wow, and the restaurant from the beginning had a liquor license and before they really didn't sell that much liquor like they had, maybe just margaritas they would sell. So we stocked up on the bar and then. So we always joke with people that, regarding our employees, that we call them lifers. Some of the employees have been there even before us and most of our employees have been with us. You know their own. After until now, what is?

Speaker 2:

it. So they're still there and they're still part of the Tequila family Still part of the Tequila family.

Speaker 3:

So it was very interesting because, again, my mother had a restaurant or my parents had a restaurant, and my mother would always tell me make sure you pursue your education so you don't end up like me, in a restaurant. And I did, I pursued my education. I got my masters by trade and MSW masters in social work and, ironically, I still ended up like my mom. In fact, my mom even had a store and then we ended up with another small business, Ritual Dairy Mart. At one point so, I just ended up like my mother.

Speaker 2:

I think what you've created at Tequila is more than a restaurant and I think probably your background in social work and helping the community ties into the restaurant, because you're always doing something there A fundraiser, an event, like any way you can reach out. You always do, you know.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean there's always something going on and, quite honestly, I love it. My husband loves it. Over the years, he and I have learned how to manage a restaurant, and by that I mean in the beginning we were stepping on one another. He had ideas, I had ideas, and so forth. So fast forward. Now we each have our responsibilities. For example, my husband. He's amazing when it comes to business, when it comes to numbers, he has great ideas. In that sense, I'm more of a hands-on. I deal with employees on a daily basis. They're uniforms, you know memos, events, and so I just feel like we're very fortunate that we could combine a business while, at the same time, continue our passion of working with the community.

Speaker 2:

That's fantastic. You guys have really created such a good partnership and recently you've had some even bigger updates. In this last year, you redid your patio. You have murals done all over. Tell me about the murals, because there is not a spot in Tequila's where you don't see a mural. That's so true.

Speaker 3:

Okay, first of all, we love art. Yes, and it was always on our list. We wanted to upgrade to Keyleth's but we always put small band-aids and we didn't have the financial opportunity to just completely remodel. So, fortunately, during the past few years, we were able to and we wanted murals and we started out. It was a little bit of a challenge finding a mural list that understood our vision and wanted to do what our vision was and that was their vision was, and so, fortunately, we met someone. His name is Isra, well-known for all his murals, and each mural, believe it or not, they have a rhyme and reason to it. For example, in the main dining room we have Frida. Absolutely love Frida.

Speaker 2:

You can find Frida a few places in the restaurant too.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I love Frida and so, anyway, in the main dining room I wanted Frida to actually have a shot of tequila in her hand. And part of the history of Frida the rumor is that she loved tequila. And not only that, she had a personal, tumultuous life, very challenging relationship with Diego. She was in a lot of pain, she had an accident and so forth, so she would drink tequila to ease her pain. And so we have Frida. And then we also have a back room that we call Room of the Stars, en Cuarto de las Estrellas, and that's kind of a tribute to Burbank, because Burbank is the media capital of the world. And so we have a few artists on our walls and the artists we chose. We chose them because not only are they famous for their own craft, but they're also amazing humanitarians. For example, we have Selena. Unfortunately, she died at a very early age, at 23. But not only was she a remarkable singer but fashion designer, and I think she helped a lot of women feel comfortable in their bodies because she was shapely and it was okay. Also, we have almost Edward's name, almost history of community activism, just always there. When the riots were in 92, he went to help and clean the streets, so he was always hands on. And then who else do we have?

Speaker 2:

You have Santana on there.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, yeah, we have Santana. Santana is another person. Created a foundation for children so they can have an opportunity to learn the arts.

Speaker 2:

And you can turn your restaurant into a fuel trip for kids on Hispanic heritage. I mean, just bust them all over there and have a little tour of your murals. It's pretty amazing yeah.

Speaker 3:

So, oh, also the bathroom. So the bathroom. Again. We have Frida, and I think again, a lot of times, as women, we're extremely conscientious about our looks, how do we look, and so forth, especially when we go into the restroom. So there's a lot of sayings that say, for example, love yourself. I wanted women to leave the restroom feeling empowered and to know that we're all beautiful enough.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's wonderful, and you even have a couple pieces from my son on your wall too. Yes, we do. My little artist has a little display there as well. So you have all that, and you have the tequila bottle mural outside so you can take pictures inside of the tequila bottle, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes, we have the tequila bottle. That a lot of people don't realize, but if you actually stand right in front of it you look like you're inside the bottle. So that's a very cool mural. And then we have our mural that says Burbank, and that's really a tribute to the city and to our customers. We wanted the customers to know that we appreciate them, we appreciate Burbank. Burbank helps provide a living for us as well as our employees. We have a lot of tours that come to the restaurant and so they like to take pictures that say Burbank.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome and the muralist that did inside that was spray can. That was right with. It's not painted, it is sprayed on there. Yes. That's incredible. Yeah, it's super amazing. Oh my gosh. So you have the murals, you have the paintings, and then the patio. Your back patio was a big undertaking, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes, so the patio has continuously been updated, changed and so forth, and one of the reasons that we have to constantly or we constantly changed it was originally, of course, due to the pandemic, but we weren't too sure what would be allowed in the city. So first we had a small patio oh, it's the same size patio, but we had a small awning, I should say. So we weren't too sure how much to invest. And then, as time went on, and last year that they approved the patio for another year, then we decided, you know what, since we're going to have it for sure at least another year, let's just extend it, let's just decorate it like once and for all to make it inviting to our customers. And it seems like that's where most customers feel comfortable. After the pandemic, there are many of us, including myself, prefer to eat outside.

Speaker 2:

Well, you made it so pretty. I mean, why wouldn't you want to sit out there? I love the way you've decorated it, thank you.

Speaker 3:

And plus, the weather is amazing for the most part in California, so why wouldn't we take advantage?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and then you put a little stage because now you've got music. You've incorporated performances and a mariachi band. Tell me what days you have music at Tequila's Well the mariachi, unbeknownst to many people.

Speaker 3:

We've had them probably for about 12 years. Oh, wow. Yeah, so that is one sort of entertainment that has been consistent and fruitful for us. And so we have the mariachi on Fridays from 7 to 9. We make it early because we are in the patio, so we don't want to disturb our neighbors. So it's for two hours and from 7 to 9. And then on Thursdays we have someone else that plays the guitar, and that one is from 6.30 to 8.30. Okay, also super early, but you know, it's something for our customers to enjoy. And then we have our talk with Thursday with the music. So it's really an enjoyable evening.

Speaker 2:

Do you still have somebody on your Sunday brunch too? No, you just got your Sunday brunch, which let's just talk about the bucket of mimosas because who doesn't love? Mimosas, you worked really hard on your brunch menu and you've established it and it's a great menu. And what other things are you highlighting for brunch now?

Speaker 3:

Well, basically we have the same items that we added, I believe, like in April, may. So we have the same brunch menu and, you're right, most people just really enjoy the mimosas.

Speaker 2:

Just bring me the bucket. That's awesome, and I should also mention that you guys won Best Outdoor Dining in my Burbank's Best 2023 contest, so congratulations, thank you, you really did such an incredible job on that patio. Yeah, that was very exciting. Yeah. And I mean you're called to Tequila's Burbank for a reason. You have a tequila bar inside where people can sit and be closer to all the alcohol. How many tequils do you actually have there?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so we do have what we do call a tequila bar, but it is a very tiny bar. It probably sits no more than 20, but it's really adorable and decorated nicely and Currently we have about 80 tequilas. That's impressive, yeah. And right now it's really fun because I we made sure that we purchased these really cool Bottles for the other Los Muertos. So there's some just really really nice ones.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and and Margaritas. Do you have any special margaritas that tequilas makes you have? Do you have a lot of flavors?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we have all the standard flavors strawberry, lime, melon and so forth but I think one of the things that makes our margaritas unique is we have the mega margarita. It's 48 ounces, perfect to share for two, or you just have it for one just for me If you have a designated driver.

Speaker 2:

That's incredible. How like, how big is it? Like a pretty.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's pretty big like a bulls, it's yeah. So about four drinks?

Speaker 2:

That's fun. Is it in a giant like stemmed glass?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's in a giant, Kind of like margarita glass. Yeah, but giant, giant, I don't think I've ever had that.

Speaker 2:

Now. That's on my to-do list. Okay, we have to have yes, and I'm not going to share it. Well, we're gonna take a quick commercial break and then we'll. We'll be right back, all right, thank you.

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Speaker 2:

All right, we are back. So we talked a lot about tequila's, but I want to talk about what you do there at tequila's in terms of the community, your you have fundraisers. You're always supporting schools, dine out nights, but the big thing I want to talk about is your annual cancer fundraiser. We are, we are in our shirts. Right now, we are wearing our cancer shirts and this will be our second year putting on a cancer awareness dinner. Why, why is it so important to you that you put this on every year?

Speaker 3:

Okay, so this is emotional for me. So Actually, my husband and I started eight years ago raising funds for cancer awareness. Originally we started raising funds for okra ovarian cancer research Alliance, and this was due to my sister who, but her name is Julie, and so she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and amazingly she did live close to five more years. And at the time, I think, for all of us, everyone reacts differently, with pain and sorrow, and for me personally, my way is to try to do something, and, and originally I shared with her that I would love to have a fundraiser and an honor, and it initially she didn't understand what I was saying. She was like, oh, no, no, no, no, I can't accept money from people like no, no, no, no, the money is not for you. You know, we just kind of share, and I asked her for permission if I could share her Story of cancer. So for about five years I chronicled, I documented, I would ask her questions about her experience, and so that's how we started. So the first year I Don't know if you remember the restaurant, the hanger, we hangar, and so we had our first fundraiser there. So back then they had this fundraiser called bold, bald and beautiful. So we all wore caps, bald caps, in her honor and we wrote her name on them and so forth, and she participated. So that was our first fundraiser and my family I still have my family bought all sorts of things you know, bracelets for us necklace, earrings, and so I continue to wear Everything that has represent over the area in cancer which is teal, like teal color. It's teal color. And then fast forward. So we did have years that during the pandemic we also had fundraisers, but we didn't have events. And then so fast forward, my sister's cancer went in remission for a minute and then about that time we found out another sister had cancer. So the other sister, yolanda. She chose not to receive treatment so she gained her wings within three months. She gained her wings within three months of learning she had cancer. And then, right about that time, another sister passed away, but that was due to a heart attack. So anyway, I have two sisters who have gained their wings due to cancer. Then both my parents and so my husband and I are extremely committed because we want their deaths to serve a greater purpose than just say they passed due to cancer. So in the most recent years this is where you and I again you and I have worked together. For years, you and I have always connected. I feel like you and I share the same passion from the community. And so last year, when we were going to have the event of course you know you have an amazing story. So I asked you to be a speaker and then during our discussion, you know I wanted you to partner with me because I always joke and I tell my husband if something happens to me, I know Ashley will continue to have the cancer fundraisers at tequila, absolutely so, anyway. So that's where you and I have joined forces and the focus has kind of changed, in the sense that before I would have pictures everywhere of my sister, and so now it's about the community. And, as of last year, between you and I we decided to have an honorary on cancers sanctuary at tequila's and basically what that means. We have various colors of of curtains, which some people know. Each cancer has a different color, so, as a result, we invite the community to send us their pictures of their loved ones and then we add their pictures to the curtains that corresponds to their cancer.

Speaker 2:

And you will have those curtains up until the fundraiser, which is on November 1st, and you also have an offender out there as well, in front of the curtains where people can put framed pictures. You have the frame pictures up there. But I want to talk a little bit about this fundraiser, kind of what we did last year and what we expect to do this year. The fundraiser is a way to benefit the genetics and genomics center at Providence, st Joseph. Hereditary cancer has been very important to the both of us and so we kind of tied that fundraiser in and there's three ways that people can partner and donate. So the first way is just donating directly. We have it on your social media but we'll put the link directly in the podcast and YouTube bio so people can donate directly to that. And then on November 1st you can dine in all day long, right, dine in, take out Just mentioned that you're there for the fundraiser or you can come to the fundraiser. What time does it start? 7? At 6. 6 o'clock and we have an amazing lineup of speakers. Last year I was a speaker, you spoke. We have guests from Providence come and speak, which they'll be coming back this year, and then this year. We have Allie Spuck, who was actually my last guest on my podcast. She shared her story of chronic cancer and so she's going to come speak as a guest. And then we have Burbank police chief Michael Albany's coming, and I'm really excited to hear his story. He, his mother and his daughter have been battling with cancer, so that's been something in his family that he's going to share and talk about. So we'll have the pink police car there as well.

Speaker 3:

And our singer this year is Isabella, oh, that's right. Yeah, tell us about that, yeah, so we're very excited. So I believe she goes to Lutheran middle school. I think she's in high school now, right? Anyway, her name is Isabella and she's from Burbank amazing voice and so her father offered her daughter his daughter to sing at our event. So that's something new that we'll have this year. So we're really looking forward to it, and you know she's from Burbank, so what better person to sing?

Speaker 2:

I've heard her sing a few times and she is pretty phenomenal. Yes, yeah, and it's a dine-in fundraiser, so it's free to attend. And then Tequila's will be donating 20% back of your order to the Providence Genetic Center. What else are we?

Speaker 3:

missing. Actually, the fundraiser in October is when you and I really exert our effort in getting the word out and we have the event. But the fundraiser is actually ongoing. We have a link with Providence, St Joseph and at any time anyone could donate. We have a scan. It's really very easy. So if anyone likes to donate, we try to make it as easy as possible, but it is year-round.

Speaker 2:

And if you go right to that link, 100% of your donation goes right to Providence, which is nice, yeah, right. And then how can people RSVP to the event?

Speaker 3:

So, for those of you that will love to attend, just send us a text at 818-516-9250. And we do ask that you RSVP, because our space is limited and, fortunately, every year we're completely sold out, so I expect the same will happen this year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was a really beautiful event, so I'm excited for it again. Yeah, it's heartwarming.

Speaker 3:

It's a bit painful.

Speaker 2:

I cried like a baby during my speech. I have all these beautiful pictures of my ugly cry up there which, yes, I'm very proud of.

Speaker 3:

You know, actually I love when we have this event because there's everyone that attends that event. We have one thing for sure in common, and that's either someone has suffered due to cancer, they were diagnosed with cancer, or their loved one has either gained their wings due to cancer and all of us, we have that bond and again, although it's sad and it's painful, I always leave feeling a lot stronger and I personally leave feeling like I get strength from everyone.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And it's just an amazing bondy moment for all of us.

Speaker 2:

And the reason that we have connected on this event is September was ovarian cancer awareness and October is breast cancer awareness, and so we've connected. Breast cancer is a big part of my family. My aunt, who is actually the same age as me, developed breast cancer when we were both 28 years old, and so it was a big shock for her to be so young. We were in our prime years, planning out our whole lives together, and so finding out that news was really difficult. We had planned our futures and living next door and having kids together, and so that kind of went out the window. And during her treatment she found out that she had the BRCA2 gene. The BRCA2 gene, which is a hereditary gene cancer and you've had ovarian cancer in your family, and so this was how we kind of connected, as this hereditary cancer in our family hurting the people we love, and it was very difficult watching my aunt go through it. She was my best friend, she is my best friend, and when we found out that she had the BRCA2 gene, our rest of our family had to get tested. So my grandpa got tested and he was positive, and then all his kids have to be tested. So my mom tested and she was positive. And then it was like, ok, great, now all of her kids have to get tested. And then, oh my gosh, guess what? Ashley, you have the gene too. So the gene that my aunt had was the same as mine. So in the last couple of years I had a preventative surgery. It's something that you can relate to as well. I think that genetic cancers sometimes get overlooked, but there are so many preventative precautions you can take. For me, with breast cancer in my family and having that gene, I was able to have really early prevention. So I was getting mammograms every six months, breast MRIs every six months, I was getting ovarian checks every six months, because ovarian cancer is also part of the BRCA gene. And then in 2001, I made the decision to remove all my breast tissue. It was covered by my insurance because of the gene and I went through a bilateral double mastectomy with reconstruction. You have been there through every step of it with me and everything turned out really great. I went from an 82% chance of breast cancer to a 6% chance of breast cancer, which is incredible. We've come this far medically to make those kind of precautions, and I don't know if you want to talk about your story a little bit yeah, now that you bring it up.

Speaker 3:

As I said, my parents passed away from cancer and again I'm young I didn't really think much of it. But then, as I got older, then I realized oh, my parents had cancer, oh, a sister had cancer, oh, another sister had cancer. So after the fourth death in our family due to cancer, I decided to be proactive and I went to Kaiser and they were really amazing. They gave me every test you could possibly think about, you could think of, and so I was very fortunate. But also in the process I did have some female issues and because of the history of ovarian cancer it was decided or I decided it was best for me to have a hysterectomy. So I had a hysterectomy and I'm just hoping that will prevent in the future any cancer. There's no guarantee. But Really, when you think about it, the whole point of us having this event is to encourage people to be proactive. I believe you and I have been very proactive to do whatever we can regarding cancer. So that's what we want people to leave our event feeling like. Okay, you know what, I have resources, there's things I could do on my own before cancer gets to me first. I mean, we're no doctors, but at least we know we could be proactive, and that's why I'm so excited that Providence St Joseph will have two speakers, because they will provide the resources for the people attending the event, so it's a sort of full circle for us now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it's just amazing just how far medically we have come, you know, getting these tests done, these genetic tests, and with that genetic center at Providence. It makes it accessible for people and that's something that our fundraising does is it makes it accessible for people that can afford it to get that testing, to have access to that testing, because I know it can be really tricky when you know that you have family history of cancer but you don't know where to start. And a genetic counselor is the first step in that. And they go through your family history, they talk to you about everyone in your family and what they've been through, to kind of find a plan of this is what we're going to test for and this is what we're going to look for. I did my genetic testing at Providence and they were fantastic and supportive and they give you a plan like, okay, this is what you've tested positive for and this is your steps within these next five years, this is your plan, these are your options. So they made it very clear for me and I went many years just doing the regular testing, the MRIs and the mammograms, and you get to a point of living in fear. So much of just constant waiting for test results and by the time you get test results you're now making an appointment for your next six months. And it just became so exhausting living in that. And I am a woman of God and so for me I pray about it all the time and I know, I believe that things are left into his power, but for me I was just. If I can make one little step just to make my body a little bit more preventative, then I can do that, and so I went through two surgeries and it was fantastic, and I'll be going through I think it's called an uferectomy and removing my uterus as well within the next couple of years as well, for more preventative measures. So without my gallbladder, I have no breasts, I'll have no uterus. They'll just keep carving things out of me that I don't need. I don't need an appendix, but that's still in there. So maybe they could take that out there while they're at it. But I really appreciate you sharing your story and I hope that everyone can kind of come out and be a part of this fundraiser with us.

Speaker 3:

Why admire you? I mean, you've been vocal and that's how I learned about you, because you were vocal about it and you shared with all of us what you were going through and, quite honestly, you encouraged me to share my hysterectomy and I was a little reluctant, but that's a fact of life and that's what I needed, and so that's what I had to have done.

Speaker 2:

I think it brings more power to you, I think it brings more confidence, I think it shows wisdom, I think it shows what an incredible role model you are for your family and for all of the women out there. So thank you, and thank you for joining us. I'm so excited to see you and we will see you on November 1st. Hopefully we will have the donation link in the bio as well as the phone number, so you can text and reserve your spot for November 1st. Thank you, we'll see you, guys, on the next episode of Women of Burbank. Ups Store on 3rd Street and Hill Street Cafe.

Tequila's Burbank
Cancer Fundraiser at Tequila's in Burbank
Genetic Testing and Medical Advancements