Room for more: Tortilleria La Milpa hopes to attract more customers with new space

Tortilleria La Milpa co-owners Antonio and Luz Barragan will have triple the space to make tortillas and tortilla chips when their business opens next month in a new building at 514 30 Road.

If all goes as planned, the Barragans will move out of their current, 3,000-square-foot location at 3225 Interstate 70 Business Loop, Unit B3, and open the 30 Road location in early December. Luz Barragan said her goal is to move everything from one site to the other in two days.

“We deliver every day, so we don’t have a week to stop producing,” she said.

The couple bought the land on 30 Road a year ago and began building a 9,500-square-foot structure six months ago. The building has storage, retail and commercial kitchen space for making and selling tortillas and chips, all made from scratch.

The business makes 115,000 corn tortillas and 34,000 flour tortillas each day, according to Antonio Barragan. About 90 percent of those tortillas are delivered to restaurants and Mexican grocery stores from Moab to Aspen and Grand Junction to Durango. The rest are sold over the counter at the Clifton location, but Luz Barragan said there’s not much room in that location for drop-in customers.

Luz Barragan said she hopes to drum up more business by having a larger retail area in the front part of the new building. The retail area will have shelves of tortillas and chips and some specialty items from Mexico, as well as coolers filled with Mexican soda.

The Barragans moved from Rifle to Grand Junction to open Tortilleria La Milpa in 2003. Both have family members who opened ice cream shops in Mexico. The couple wanted to start a business of their own, but decided not to go into the family business. They figured an ice cream shop wouldn’t do as well year-round in Grand Junction as it would in the warmer climate of the Pacific Coast of Mexico, but a tortilla-making business may succeed.

They built a local clientele and, mostly through word-of-mouth, built a customer base of 60 restaurants on the Western Slope and in Eastern Utah. Luz Barragan said the business has outgrown its Clifton location and needed to expand.

“Some people think we are crazy to do this right now in this economy, but we need to grow, so in order to do that we have to move,” she said.

She and her husband weren’t sure they could find a place equipped specifically for a tortilla-making shop, so they made a building to match their needs. One of those needs not met in the last building was an air-conditioning system able to handle the heat of multiple ovens.

“Over there it was really hot. This will be more comfortable,” Barragan said.

Their goal is to increase production by 30 percent next year, but only if the business adds enough customers to buy all of those tortillas. The new, larger kitchen will allow for the larger production numbers. It also will allow the business to expand its offerings to include more tortilla and chip flavors and sizes, including organic, blue corn and “natural” tortillas without preservatives.


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