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Mama's Hot Tamales to open a Pasadena outpost

November 24, 2008 |  4:50 pm

Mamashottamales When a friend called earlier today to tell me that he'd seen a "Now Leasing" sign outside Mama's Hot Tamales in Westlake, my heart sank. Was it possible that this colorful restaurant and community-activist center co-founded by the Institute for Urban Initiatives was actually closing?

A quick phone call revealed that no, Mama's isn't closing. It's just opening a second location, in Pasadena. The "Now Leasing" sign is just for the portion of the current space that is devoted to paperwork. (That office will move to Pasadena when the new restaurant opens, hopefully early next year.)

Much like its MacArthur Park counterpart, Mama's Hot Tamales Pasadena will house two crucial components: A kitchen training center where community members learn valuable skills (cooking, baking, putting together gift baskets) that will help them land jobs in the food service industry; and an apprentice-operated, job training restaurant where those enrolled in the program can receive real-time experience.

Besides the goodness inherent in this worthy endeavor, Pasadena residents will no longer have to travel far to get a taste of the tamales that so many in the Westlake neighborhood and downtown L.A. have grown to love.

Mama's Hot Tamales, Pasadena, 45 N. San Gabriel Blvd.

-- Jessica Gelt 

Photo of Mama's Hot Tamales co-founder Sandra Romero at a Day of the Dead Feast inside the Westlake restaurant: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times