By: Kimberley Haas, Union Leader
The owners of Dos Amigos Burritos and Vida Cantina are opening a tortilla production facility in a mill building on Washington Street.
Chef David Vargas and his business partner, Joel Harris, say they go through a lot of tortillas. At Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, they use 8,000 tortillas a month. At the four Dos Amigos locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 18,000 tortillas are used each month.
Currently, a staff member at Vida Cantina spends two and a half to three hours a day grinding corn, five days a week, to keep up with demand at their restaurant. Then they have to hand press the tortillas. Vargas describes the process as a labor of love.
Vargas and Harris researched the best tortillas and tortilla companies in the country to ensure their products will be of the highest quality and decided to buy a $45,000 custom-made tortilla machine from Campbell Machines in Los Angeles.
“It comes with a grinder that’s volcanic rock. It’s a very specific process, and it saves a lot of the corn’s nutrients,” Harris said Friday.
Two people will be hired to work full time at Vida Tortilla in Dover. The hope is to produce enough tortillas to supply the five restaurants and make packages of 10 available for sale at Vida Cantina and Dos Amigos.
Vargas and Harris hope to sell the tortillas at farmers markets as well. The plan is to also sell tacos for shoppers to snack on, and then they can bring a package home to their family for Mexican food night.
All the tortillas will be made from heirloom flint corn grown at Tuckaway Farm in Lee. Dorn and Chuck Cox have expanded their corn production to keep up with the demand.
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