Clockwise from left: The Latino Business Awards inaugural show at the Arlington Theatre in 2022; award winners The Birria Boyz on stage last year; event organizer Andy Galvez with his wife and daughter. | Design credit: Ryan P. Cruz

The second annual Latino Business Awards is coming up at the end of the month, and voting is now open for dozens of categories, including Best Restaurant, Best Food Truck, Best Michelada, and the highly competitive Best Taco. More than 50 awards will be handed out to area business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders when the results are announced live during the awards ceremony on July 29 at the Arlington Theatre.

Last year the inaugural show was packed, and organizer Andy Gálvez from Miranda Entertainment is excited to bring back the same energy with even more nominees in the running for the awards — and bragging rights — this time around.

Gálvez, who was born in Guatemala and has lived in Santa Barbara for more than two decades, started the awards show in 2022 as a way to bring the Latino community together to celebrate themselves and enjoy a night in the spotlight and on the red carpet. Before starting his own entertainment company, he was a musician and remembers attending red carpet events like the Latin Grammy Awards.

“I wanted them to know what that feels like,” he said, explaining that area business owners are usually too busy working day-to-day to take a night off to celebrate themselves. “When you own a business, you don’t work eight hours; you work 24 hours.”

The show was a hit and brought out hundreds of the community movers-and-shakers for a night of awards, performances, and a little bit of fun rivalry between nominees hoping to be named the people’s choice.

The inaugural awards received tens of thousands of votes, with some categories, such as Best Take-Out, receiving nearly 30,000 votes in just a few weeks. This time around, voting will be limited to once a day, per device, and votes will only count if you vote in at least 10 categories.

Still, with the wealth of locally owned Latino businesses in Santa Barbara County, there are plenty of tough choices to make. The most crowded categories, such as Best Restaurant and Best Taco, have more than 30 nominees, representing some of the region’s favorite mainstays — including Lilly’s Tacos and El Sitio — along with newcomers Yona Redz and The Birria Boyz.

City Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, voted 2022’s Community Leader of the Year, said that last year’s event was a big success that “really brought the Latino community together.”

“It’s something that we need, especially now, and it’s something that really kind of confirms how united we can be and how hard we can work to achieve the American dream,” Gutierrez said. “And I think that the Latino Business Awards is just an example of what the American dream⁠ should be.”

Voting is live now on the Latino Business Awards website, where a complete list for all 50 categories is available. Show starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at the Arlington Theatre.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.