Merchants We Love
Our “Merchants We Love” series appreciates those who generously contribute to the success of our tours by hosting our wonderful guests week after week. We feel they give special meaning to “City of Angels”, and we hope you enjoy getting to know them better.
Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts, practically world-famous by now, anchors the East Patio of the Original Farmers Market and has been a huge favorite on our Tours since Day 1. Irma and Eileen Iraguirre are the beautiful mother-daughter team who keep the tiny space running like a sweet dream. Irma has worked for Bob Tusquellas for over 30 years, pretty much since she arrived in Los Angeles from Guatemala.
Irma met her husband - who is from Guatemala - here in LA! Eileen and her older brother Randy were born here. Randy is the tall-dark-handsome young man who also once worked at Bob’s, and in May, he will graduate from Law School at Northwestern University.
With the doughnuts counter being one of the busiest in the land, I felt extremely lucky on a Thursday morning, when both ladies made some time to sit down and chat up their lives with me.
Inquiring minds will want to know ~ what is your favorite coffee and doughnut here at Bob’s?
Irma: The regular glazed doughnut and a regular coffee. Just the usual!
Eileen: It changes every day! Right now it’s the cinnamon roll and the hot French Vanilla drink. (Similar to the cocoa, which your Tour Maestra did not even yet know about!)
What is your favorite aspect of working here at the Market?
Irma: Being with my regular customers! I already know their usual orders, and it’s so nice to speak with them, catch up on their lives.
Eileen: Working with my mom!! I love our good customers, and meeting new people all the time. It’s not just a job, we have a community here, it’s so nice to be part of this community!
Now. There was a TV celebrity buying doughnuts on Saturday morning that Irma did not recognize! Can you share which celebrities are fans of Bob’s?
Irma looked directly at Eileen to take this question, laughing at how she doesn’t know nor care if a customer is famous, everyone is certain to get her great service!
Eileen: The director of the Hunger Games comes, with his wife and children. Dr. Drew, the late Huell Howser, and Miley Cyrus’ ex, Liam Hemsworth. A lot of younger actors, too, but I don’t know their names. Shia LaBeouf has walked through the patio!
I’m guessing that you’re both extremely busy in addition to the long hours that you work here. What do you enjoy doing in your vast spare time?
Irma: Well, I start my day at 3am, at the gym. I come to work at 5:30am, and at 2:30 I’m in class, studying computer skills. I’m home by 6pm and in bed at 8, and that is usually 6 days a week! For 1/2 day on Sunday, I cook, I love cooking, and we also spend time with friends, going out to eat sometimes ... (then she just laughed.)
Eileen: I just finished my undergraduate degree at Cal State Northridge in December, and I’ll be starting my Masters in Sociology in August. I also do volunteer work. I love to eat! I love music, reading, hanging out with my friends, and spending time with my golden retriever!
You are probably privy to lots of “stories” from customers! Are either of you artists? Have you ever considered turning any of your experiences/stories into art - writing, painting, drawing?
Irma: No .... (but she seemed kind of intrigued by that idea)
Eileen: No ... not yet! But I do keep a journal ... (she might consider this!)
You are two of our favorite angels in LA! Do you get out much, to explore our city? Which places do you enjoy in LA?
Irma: I love nature, being in nature. I love camping, but we usually get out of LA for that! I love the Grand Canyon.
Eileen: I love being in nature too. My friends have been encouraging hiking trips, locally. We hiked in Pasadena recently, I loved it. We’ve taken trips to Lake Tahoe, we love exploring outside the city. But closer to town, I love Six Flags!
Do you spend time in the kitchen? Which are your favorite/best meals, your signature dishes?
Irma: I make a lot of Guatemalan food - tamales (usually at Christmas), enchiladas, chili relleno with chicken ... but these foods are not the same as the Mexican version! (This veered off into an entire sidebar of how amazing Guatemalan versions are, which I was familiar with. Another story for another day!) I also love pasta!
Eileen: I rarely cook, but I’ve learned to make lasagne with my mom. I love Guatemalan fried rice, and carne asada is some of my favorite comfort food.
Who inspires you?
Irma: My son, and my daughter! And also my husband, he works very hard.
Eileen: My mom! And my dad.
Now it’s time for Rapid Fire! 10 questions, quick answers, no thinking allowed:
Favorite food in the world?
Irma: (pause) Pizza! (laugh)
Irma: Julio Iglesias.
Eileen: Me too, I love Christmas.
(This prompted me to invite myself to Christmas at their home this year.)
Pop or hip hop?
Eileen: I really like hip hop right now.
It’s your day off. Sporting event, art museum ... ?
Irma: Out to eat, or eating in a friend’s kitchen!
Eileen: Out to eat with friends!
You’re spending your next day off...
Irma: With friends.
Eileen: In nature, somewhere outdoors.
You may have ONE for an entire year, full-time, paid in full. Which do you choose: Housekeeper, Driver, Chef, Hair&Makeup Artist?
Eileen: Ooooh, it would be so nice to have a Chef! (I reminded her that she has her mom) But, the Hair&Makeup would be great, wouldn’t it?! (Yes, it would.)
Favorite vacation spot?
Irma: Venice, Italy.
Best advice you ever received?
Irma: “If you work for someone, you have to be honest.” (from her mom)
Eileen: “Keep moving on.” (from her dad)
Quick words of advice to future owners of coffee&doughnut stores?
Irma: Work hard!
Eileen: Be creative! Be passionate, and explore new and different ideas all the time!
Having known both of these ladies for years, it was so much fun having a conversation of topics other than which doughnuts to order for today’s tour. I was so grateful for our short time together, considering that time seemed to stand still while we laughed as much as we spoke.
There is truly something kind of magical and special about savoring a freshly-made, still-warm doughnut and exquisite coffee, especially on a weekday morning, served with the kindest of service and sincerest of smiles, even on the most crowded of days. I ought to know, I’ve been experiencing just that for about 7 years now. Our thousands of tour guests have enjoyed that exact same treatment, weekdays and weekends.
Lisa and I appreciate Irma and Eileen - and Bob - way more than they’ll ever know. They are truly the kind of people that make our city great. We're honored to share our experience because people who reside/work here, and those who visit, all deserve to know where the best coffee and doughnuts live.
By the way, Bob’s Doughnuts is now on Facebook, so be sure to “Like” as soon as possible! And stay tuned for a very special “interview” with the man himself, Bob Tusquellas, coming up this summer.
Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef and Tour Maestra,