Meet Karla

Karla Vasquez

Karla Vasquez was born in El Salvador, raised in Los Angeles, and has always been intrigued by creativity and art. At the age of 18, Karla married Art Vasquez, soon after, the couple moved to south Orange County.   

In 2001 the Vasquez Family received the news that Art's mom, Roselia "Chela", had leukemia. After spending only 20 days in the hospital, she lost her battle to cancer.  Though Karla may not have known it then, Chela's memory would live on in a significant way.

Karla and Art had three boys over the next few years. In 2009 the idea of opening a restaurant continued to surface. The family wanted a casual, fresh, and inviting restaurant representing their mother's Michoacán style recipes.  

With no restaurant experience, Karla was pivotal in the development of Chelas from early on. Her love for food, family, and entertaining was a natural fit as she, Art, and the family created recipes, organized focus groups, designed the restaurant space, and, ultimately, the menu. In March 2011, the first Chelas Mexican Grill opened in OC.

Having a restaurant may not have been what Karla originally dreamed of in life, but her natural passion and talent quickly demonstrated she was where she was meant to be.  Karla took culinary courses with a well-known Laguna Beach chef and quite soon discovered the art and creativity involved in a chef's life.  This was when her love of design and food merged, and she fully realized that cooking is an art that could be used to create culinary dishes.

Because of the food that was created around the family's values of tradition, along with Karla's determination, tenacity, and strength, Chelas Mexican Grill was a success from the start, winning numerous foodie awards!  Over the next decade, Karla evolved in her entrepreneurial journey, as did Chelas. 

In July of 2022, Karla opened Chelas Mexican Kitchen in San Clemente, reflecting all of the flavors customers had come to love over the previous decade in a fresh & modern vibe dining experience. 

Chelas Mexican Kitchen is where traditional, authentic recipes are prepared using only the freshest ingredients and are served in an elevated, casual setting. Karla welcomes you to Chelas Mexican Kitchen to experience how a passion for creativity and cooking come together as one.