About a decade ago, Zenaida Merlin and Luis Estrada started their catering business, D’Maize. Estrada was trained as a chef in their native El Salvador. He spent half his day at another job and the other half making pupusas and other dishes in their home kitchen, in San Francisco’s Mission District.

After just one year, D’Maize outgrew their home and they moved the business into La Cocina, a Mission District kitchen incubator that focuses on helping Latino-owned businesses grow. Over the past decade, La Cocina has helped dozens of businesses move from home-based or curbside into brick-and-mortar locations. La Cocina gives businesses up to five years to grow in its space. D’Maize only needed two.

In 2016, as Next City covered at the time, D’Maize took out a small business loan from the Mission Economic Development Agency, a nonprofit that has helped…

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