Pilar Guzman

CEO & Business Development Officer
Half Moon Empanadas

Pilar Guzman is the CEO of Half Moon Empanadas, a fast-casual food concept, offering authentic empanadas since 2008. Under Pilar’s leadership, Half Moon Empanadas has expanded to 30 locations nationwide with the mission to create a new food category in America, the empanada. Pilar’s dream is to make Half Moon Empanadas a household name. Because of her achievements, Pilar has been recognized as one of Inc.’s Female Founders 250 List in 2024. Additionally, Half Moon Empanadas was named one of Inc’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the US. For her commitment to her community, Pilar was awarded the top 25 most influential women in South Florida by the South Florida Business Journal. Most recently she was awarded the Miami Dade County “In the Company of Women Awards” under the category of Outstanding Woman in Business & Economics.

Pilar’s vision has led Half Moon Empanadas to find tremendous success in the airport space. Today, HalfMoon Empanadas is the #1 best seller concept per sqft. at Miami International Airport and the best performing stand-alone kiosk at Denver International Airport. Half Moon Empanadas opened its first airport location in 2015 and today can be found in 13 airports throughout the country.

Pilar’s true passion is to empower women and minority-owned entrepreneurs. She is determined to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of Hispanic entrepreneurs and women. Pilar is a Ricardo Salinas Scholarship recipient for the Aspen Institute, and a Young American Leaders Program fellow from Harvard School of Business. She has been a mentor to the WIN Lab Miami from Babson College, and the FIU Startup Food Lab. Pilar sits on the board of the Impac Fund, the board of the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University and she has recently been elected Trustee for the Miami Foundation. She is also a Miami Leadership and a Miami Fellow graduate.

In 2020 Pilar spoke to President Biden about the PPP loans and qualifying small businesses. As a result of this conversation, policy was changed and the structure of how the program was distributed was updated to ensure that real small businesses, those with 20 employees or less, would have access to the funds.

Pilar was born and raised in Mexico and holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University, School of Foreign Services. Prior to joining Half Moon Empanadas, Guzman worked at The John S. and James L Knight Foundation in Miami, FL.

Pilar Guzman is leading Half Moon Empanadas into becoming a UNICORN with the mission to change the world one empanada at a time!


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