Like many restaurant owners around the country, Baltimore’s Rosalyn Vera is doing the best she can to keep her business operating successfully during the coronavirus pandemic. But managing stress in these times can be quite difficult. For Rosalyn’s worries, the chronic has become the tonic.
“Maybe one day, years from now, there will be a little restaurant that has infused recipes with salsas, tortillas…everything. Eventually, it’s going to happen. Someone is going to do it. Why not me?”
When times get really tough, like now, I think we can all get overwhelmed,” the New York native said. “But [medical Cannabis] has really helped me out. I have an edible and take it easy. It keeps me calm and takes me to a better place.”
Rosalyn, 43, co-owns the award-winning Cocina Luchadoras with her mother, Margarita Verdejo. Together, the pair opened the taqueria in 2018, quickly winning the hearts – and appetites – of those residing in or passing through Fells Point.
While both mother and daughter spend time in the kitchen cooking recipes inspired by both family and employees, Rosalyn also oversees every facet of the operation. From managerial duties to social media marketing, and even playing the occasional role of cashier, she runs a 6-member team that she affectionately refers to as family.
She credits their hard work and commitment in helping turn the startup into a thriving business that is entertaining the possibility of a second shop in Hampden.
“We’re going to go through with it,” Rosalyn said. “But we just don’t know when. With all that’s going on, it’s gonna take some time.”
For now, Rosalyn is content in remodeling the outdoors of Cocina Luchadoras to capture the ‘energy’ or Feng shui of the indoors.
The decor of Luchadoras, which translates to female wrestlers or fighters, is covered with posters celebrating the strength of women and people of color. Mexican visitors can often be heard telling Rosalyn how her shop reminds them of home.
“A lot of what you see is from my childhood,” she said. “This is what I grew up with and I really wanted to have the restaurant be a reflection of my personality.”
Since indoor dining is currently prohibited at her establishment due to coronavirus safety laws, Rosalyn has begun expanding the exterior to allow her faithful customers to socially distance while enjoying a taco or three.
The new design, she explains, derives its inspiration from the very same place as the interior: medical Cannabis.
“I just become extra focused and more proactive,” Rosalyn said in regards to medicating. “That focus brings out the creativity and allows me to be able to take action.”
Rosalyn is adamant about using Cannabis responsibly, placing business and above all, motherhood, as her foremost priorities. Raising a 10-year-old daughter has also allowed Rosalyn to understand her mother’s indifference towards the plant.
“She is not ‘oh-my-goodness’ pro-Cannabis,” said Rosalyn, explaining that due to Mexican laws, alcohol is more prevalent.
“Everyone is allowed to think how they want. To me, it’s a very positive thing. It’s an amazing natural product the Earth has given us. And whatever comes from the Earth should be respected.”
While they don’t often speak about Cannabis, Rosalyn has dreams of one day potentially expanding her growing artisanal brand to include Cannabis-infused dinners.
“I’ve been doing research and there’s so many [recipes] out there!” she said. “Maybe one day, years from now, there will be a little restaurant that has infused recipes with salsas, tortillas…everything. Eventually, it’s going to happen. Someone is going to do it. Why not me?”
Rosalyn is outspoken about her past struggles with anxiety, but her worries never stopped her from exhibiting a bold streak of fearlessness, earning her the moniker of ‘Best Badass’ from Baltimore Magazine in 2019. The nickname derived after a public incident of harassment that included multiple death threats from a person objecting to an anti-Trump political poster on display.
Like the fighters that adorn the walls of her taqueria, Vera is tough and unapologetic about fighting for her loved ones.
“It fills me with so much pride to see all that we have created,” she said, repeatedly attributing success to her staff.
“We’re all trying to live a better life. We’re trying to live the life we want to live.
Rosalyn credits her family, her team, her upbringing and lastly, Cannabis, for making the way towards a better life.
“Not that I owe it [explicitly] to [Cannabis] – that’s more about who I am and what I’m capable of,” she said.
“But with it, it allows me to be more creative, more focused and more successful. At least that’s how it works for me. I use it to be a better version of myself, so then I am able to live a good life. I’m very blessed to have found Cannabis.”
Cocina Luchadoras 253 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD
CocinaLuchadoras.com | @CocinaLuchadoras
STORY & PHOTO by BAXSEN PAINE @BAXSENPAINE for LEAF NATION