When Guillermo Piñón opened Distrito 14, he didn’t just open a sports bar. Guillermo opened a hub for all things food, art, community y cultura to showcase the talent found in Boyle Heights. The inspiration to do so came from his late father, Armando, who would frequent the same space in the 1980’s. The more you get to know Guillermo, you’ll find that family is his biggest motivator in everything that he does.
Guillermo grew up playing baseball and football, so soccer was never something that was front of mind. His mother, Josefina, would often root for the Chivas, but it wasn’t until he took a trip to Guadalajara in 1986 that he really grew an appreciation for the sport. As Guillermo watched the World Cup alongside his grandfather, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the game.
With Angel City’s inaugural season on the horizon, Guillermo is already looking forward to the excitement and energy that gameday will bring. Most importantly, he’s excited to share the experience with his daughter, Mila.
This is Guillermo Piñón.
Angel City FC’s Member Monday series is presented by Birdies.
Q: What inspired you to open up a sports bar?
A: My main inspiration to take over the existing bar was my late father, Armando. My father would frequently visit the old bar, “Las Palomas,” in the 1980’s. His visits were generally either before or after Dodger baseball games, so when the opportunity came up to do business in this very location, I knew the energy would be perfect to do something that my father would enjoy and be proud of.
Q: What is your vision for how this space will be experienced by the community?
A: The primary point of our concept is to be a community center where we can all come together and enjoy Food, Art, Community y Cultura (F.A.C.C). From the very beginning of this project, I always envisioned Distrito 14 to be an inclusive hub where we can showcase the talent of Boyle Heights.
Q: How did you begin collaborating with local artists and chefs?
A: It’s simple, I love art and food! This is what brought me to my partner and hermano, Chef Juan Sanjuan. Between us, Juan and I are blessed to be surrounded by other amazing chefs, to whom we can reach out for anything when our peers might be in need. The chef circuit is beautiful. When it’s time to come together, the food industry is tightly united. With art, I just knew I wanted to work with as many talented artists as possible, by offering them a space where they can come in and use the walls that we dedicated to them, to put up their art and sell without paying a consignment fee or owing any percentage of the sale. This makes for a great two-way partnership in which all parties benefit. We give them a safe, fun, and clean space so they can put up their amazing art, and we cross promote. “Una mano lava la otra mano” (one hand helps wash the other hand).
Q: Why is it important to you to support small businesses?
A: I think it’s important to support big dreams. Supporting small businesses not only helps stimulate the local economy, but it also helps those same businesses give back to the community that supports the business. Besides that, I know there are other business owners out there that have sons or daughters like my daughter, Mila, that are involved in many activities such as folklorico, cheer, softball, basketball, music class, tutoring, soccer and so on. I want all of them to be supported.
Q: As someone who grew up in LA, how do you view the city’s identity? What do you like most about LA?
A: I really don’t identify Los Angeles with anything specific. I identify LA as home, especially because the city is so diverse. What do I like most about Los Angeles? The LA culture. Los Angeles is so rich in culture. There is so much that I love about my hometown, from the sports teams to the beautiful skyline I get to enjoy from right outside Distrito Catorce and Mariachi Plaza, to the amazing sunsets and the beautiful people I come across on a daily basis.
Q: What was your experience like coaching high school football? What was your favorite thing about being a coach?
A: Coaching high school football was an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to work side by side with the coaches that I looked up to as a young man and that were mentors to me was such an advantage. It taught me accountability, structure, planning and most importantly, execution. My favorite part about coaching, without a doubt, was the positive relationships that were built with so many young men, many of which I still keep in touch with.
Q: You played American football. How did you become interested in soccer?
A: My mom, Josefina, introduced me to soccer. I have a memory as a child of my mom, a native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, yelling at the TV, especially when her team Las Chivas played America. I remember sitting with her and watching a game that honestly, at the time, I didn’t understand. I grew up playing baseball and football and watching basketball. Soccer was like hockey to me, I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t until we took a trip to visit our family in Guadalajara in 1986, where I remember sitting with my grandfather, Carmen Vargas, and watching the World Cup that was being hosted in Mexico. We sat together and he explained everything from rules to strategy. That’s how I remember getting into soccer.
Q: What does it mean to you to have a professional women’s soccer team in Los Angeles and getting to share that with your daughter?
A: It is very meaningful to me because it keeps the circle going in which I can now do the same thing my grandfather and mom did with me. I can now do that with my daughter and some day she will do it with her kids. It is also important to me because I understand the importance of young women needing as many positive role models and mentors as possible. We all can inspire young minds and hearts, the difference is always the platform, and a professional women's soccer team will be just that, a huge platform in which the young female athlete in our communities can be a part of something so special like ACFC.
Q: What are you looking forward to most from Angel City FC’s inaugural season in 2022?
A: I’m looking forward to the energy that is created by the excitement of the crowd. The drums, the atmosphere, the anticipation of celebrating a victory and being part of history. But most of all, I’m excited and looking forward to having father and daughter date nights with Mila at the games.
Q: When do you feel bold? What makes you feel bold?
A: Ironically, I feel the boldest when I experience a little self doubt. When I hear that little voice, it's almost like a defense mechanism and I owe that to my mom. My mom programmed me that way. My mom is a 4’11” woman who fears nothing! My mom came to the United States at the age of 16, alone, weighing under 90lbs and figured out how to make a better life for her and her family. If my mother was brave enough to do that, then I owe it to her to be bold when I need to be.
Q: Why did you choose your mother to receive a pair of Birdies shoes?
A: I am who I am because of my mother. My mother taught me that having a big heart wasn’t a flaw. That caring for others and helping as much as possible didn’t mean I was soft. Those are the life lessons that stood out to me and kept me out of trouble growing up. I knew that if I ever did anything that would put me in a position that would result in any harm to me, it would devastate her. So anytime the temptation to do something bad or when a peer wanted me to join in on stuff that I knew was not good, it wasn’t the loud tough dad who I worried about, it was always that little 4’11” giant of a woman that would come to my mind first. So with that said, I feel that this person, my mother, who introduced me to soccer and taught me what the definition of love is, and continues to be a giant in my life, represents perfectly this awesome campaign by Birdies shoes.