Mama’s Hot Tamales & Sandi “Mama” Romero
Sandi “Mama” Romero is an entrepreneur and community organizer who is influential in helping people go from the ‘informal economy’ to the ‘formal’ economy. Romero founded Mama’s Hot Tamales in 2001.
Mama’s Hot Tamales was a kitchen training center which brought together street vendors of various Latin American backgrounds from the MacArthur Park area in an effort to educate and support the vendors with the goal of helping them establish their businesses formally. At Mama’s, they learned about health standards and the permitting rules they must abide by in order to run their businesses successfully. Mama mentored hundreds of students while running the training center and Mama’s Hot Tamales became known for the variety of tamale flavors available.
She has not only helped street vendors, but has used her connections to organized park clean-ups, led an effort to increase security in the park, and assisted in the launch of summer concerts and art installations. Sandi cares deeply for the MacArthur Park community and invests as much time and effort as she can. In return, a beloved community of vendors, artists, activists, politicians, police — people of all walks of life — love and revere her as their “Mama”.