It was 30 years ago when Barbara Burrell grew weary of the corporate world and struck out on her own to open a taco stand. She couldn’t find a bank that would take a risk on a single black woman, so she scraped together loans from friends and family and opened Sky’s Gourmet Tacos in 1992. She’s been a shooting star ever since.

“It feels like I’m just getting started,” the breast cancer survivor tells L.A. Weekly at the Pico Blvd. restaurant anniversary celebration on Thursday. “Thirty hard years go by, but you don’t recall them – and that’s a good thing – because it would make you drop your fortitude and perseverance. I’ve just lived these 30 years in a beautiful way. Looking back I would have escalated a lot sooner. I wish I had the confidence then that I have now.”

Since then she has opened a marketplace in Marina del Rey, has a line of taco sauces and is on Goldbelly. She’s in the midst of building out a new restaurant at the Hollywood Park development next to SoFi Stadium. 

“SoFi is going to be huge,” says Burrell as she greets guests from the neighborhood.  “It’s going to be 3,800 square feet of upscale space with a full bar and new menu items that’s going to create a lot of jobs. It’s going to be a lot of newness but will bring along the old Sky.”

The entrepreneur is humble and thankful to have survived earthquakes, protests and a pandemic and takes none of her success for granted, especially when the restaurant business is still in freefall.

“Right now, the lending body is not embracing restaurants because we just don’t know where they are going,” she says. “It’s a risk. You’ve got to hang on and pray that there might be an investor out there that will believe in you. The more you believe in yourself, the more someone will believe in you. And it doesn’t help that the world is so divided now. We have to keep our energy focused so we can attract beautiful things and love and bring in the light.”

Sky's Gourmet Tacos

Celebrating 30 years on Pico Blvd. (Michele Stueven)


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