“Centro helped me so much that during the program I started thinking about starting another business” – Karla Salgado


Karla was a successful sales professional in her country, who always had the dream of being an entrepreneur. When she moved to Pacifica, California with her husband and children, she faced many challenges, starting with the language, cultural differences and a lack of understanding about the regulations and requirements for entrepreneurship.

When the Covid pandemic began, Karla and her husband Larry decided that despite the difficulty and uncertainty of the moment, they wanted to invest their resources in starting the business they had always dreamed of. “Larry has a special love and respect for the community of Pacifica, because it has been his home for the last 50 years, and that is why we decided to start our business here.”

After buying a car and obtaining all the necessary permits, to sell their hot dogs in a local parking lot, and thus, Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawgs was born. Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawgs is truly a family business, with Karla, Larry and their children all working in it. Each of them is in charge of a part of the business. “We have appointed my son as logistics manager, he is in charge of setting up and dismantling the cart. My daughter, as marketing manager, is in charge of all our social media; my husband is the chef and I am in charge of organizing everything needed for the meals, as well as collecting and managing the accounts.” Involving everyone in the business and giving them responsibilities, has motivated the whole family, because the success of the business is thanks to the effort of all of them.


As a new business owner Karla faced many challenges when she joined Centro’s Basic Entrepreneurship Program. In particular, she had to overcome her fear of being able to attend all classes, while keeping the business open and selling on class days. “Centro understood my situation and encouraged me to apply and participate in the Basic Entrepreneurship Program with their support, I was able to complete the program.”

Taking the Program was an enriching experience for Karla as she was able to share the class with other entrepreneurs, listen to their stories, and to know that they are dealing with the same struggles and fears while starting their own businesses. “We complemented each other, shared experiences and made great connections learning from others.”

Thanks to Centro, Karla learned everything she needed to reorganize Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawgs, creating a solid foundation and a clearer strategy to make her business more successful. “Centro helped me so much that during the program I started thinking about starting another business, and starting it with all the knowledge from the beginning”. After graduating from her San Jose program in July 2021, Karla started importing products from her country to sell in the United States, taking the knowledge she had acquired in the program and she started her second business.

“I am no longer afraid of entrepreneurship, the fear is gone. If there is proper planning, establishing the resources I have, there is no longer fear of starting a business, because you already have the necessary knowledge.”


Karla’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to be focused and to know that there are no immediate results. “Having the patience to build relationships with customers, always listening to customer feedback, having good quality standards and being consistent are all very important.”

For Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawgs, making connections with customers has always been a priority and Karla does this on a daily basis to attract attention and differentiate themselves from other businesses: “We’re on a corner and people are walking by with their friends, with their dogs, having coffees… and my husband tells them ‘You know what goes good with that? A hot-dog’ and they stop happily and say, ‘that’s a good idea’ and buy from us”. She also points out that people that are walking their dogs are her best customers, so they have a little plate to serve a hot dog for the dog as well. Customers love that detail, and are really appreciative.

For those entrepreneurs who also have a family business, or who want to start a new one, Karla highlights how important it has been to be united and to learn to communicate using business language. With their son and daughter, they are learning how to take steps for the future and set a good example. “We learn from our mistakes and learnings, and that’s how we build the business together.”


Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawgs is still in the same parking lot in Pacifica where they started, but now they have new goals. Next year, Karla wants to build customer loyalty, and increase their hours of operation and selling days. At the moment their capacity is limited because they only have one car, so they are working towards purchasing another one in the near future.

Eventually, Karla would like to have a store with much more variety so they can continue to grow. “If we had a store we could have more variety, sizes and staff. We would have a place for our customers to sit down to enjoy their hot dog. That’s what we would like to achieve in the future.”

If you’re in Pacifica, you easily find Elgie’s Hot Diggity Dawg at 1925 Palmetto Ave, Pacifica and take a stroll on the beach! You can also support Karla and Larry’s family business by following them on Facebook and Instagram.