Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

Hot sauce factory CEO: "We make hot sauce, we don't make tear gas"

IRWINDALE, Calif. — A Southern California hot sauce plant that came under fire for its spicy odors is throwing open its doors to the public, offering a whiff of excitement and perhaps a breath of fresh air in its relations with its neighbors.

About 3,000 people visited the factory that makes Sriracha hot sauce over the weekend near Los Angeles. The factory held its first open houses to kick off the chili harvest season.

During a 20-minute walk through the 650,000-square-foot facility, visitors got to watch chili grinding; sampled Sriracha-flavored ice cream, popcorn and chocolate caramels; visited the new gift shop; and took photos with a cardboard cutout of David Tran, CEO of plant owner Huy Fong Foods.

Tran explained why he opened the factory doors when he previously had been secretive about its trade secrets and customized machinery.

"To prove we make hot sauce, we don't make tear gas," Tran said.

Irwindale, the Los Angeles suburb of about 1,500 people, had sued the company and declared the plant a public nuisance after some nearby residents complained of an eye-watering, throat-closing odor during grinding season.

Tran began offering small tours to visitors from all over the U.S. and Canada, and several politicians said they wouldn't mind if he moved his $60 million company to their areas.

But in May, an agreement was forged between the city and Tran with the help of representatives from California Gov. Jerry Brown's Business and Economic Development Office. The city dropped its nuisance declaration and lawsuit.

Tran, an immigrant from Vietnam whose company produces several chili sauces based on the flavors of his native country, said he installed stronger ventilation filters that he was confident would block the smell.

The city hasn't received any complaints, City Manager John Davidson said.

The factory intends to offer tours each Saturday, except Labor Day weekend, until the harvest season ends in November.

The plant gets 45 truckloads of chili peppers daily from farms in Kern and Ventura counties, with a harvest season goal of 58,000 tons. The peppers are ground and mixed with vinegar and salt, releasing a spicy scent that made some visitors sneeze or cough.

But Irwindale residents Monica Lopez and Monica Romero weren't bothered.

"The smell doesn't even bother us, and I live three blocks away," said Lopez, 53. "I haven't even coughed once since I've been in here."

Comments
Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Could you pay an unexpected $400 expense?More than four in 10 Americans said they couldn’t without borrowing money or selling something, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released Tuesday.That’s a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target is renovating more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, including two SuperTarget locations in New Tampa and Clearwater.The Clearwater store’s makeover — which the corporation calls ‘‘reimagining" — just wrapped up, according to Target spoke...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG — Ford’s Garage, a car junkie’s haven, has proven to be popular eatery across the state.Now it has a chance to drive customers to its seats in St. Petersburg. The restaurant opens its ninth location downtown Wednesday at 200 First Ave....
Updated: 4 hours ago

The hostile work environment checklist: How toxic is yours?

Workplace stress is hardly a new phenomenon. Everyone has a bad day (or even month) at work now and then. Your client presentation didn’t go as well as planned; your boss didn’t fall head over heels for your proposal; you had to stay late to finish a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Career Q&A:

Career Q&A:

Q: Despite having a stellar employment record, I am concerned about two incidents mentioned during my recent performance review. Both involved accusations which were completely unfair.Several months ago, our human resources manager told me that I was...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

TAMPA — Tampa-based private equity firm ProspEquity Partners paid $18.2 million less than three weeks ago for a two-thirds stake in Tierra Nueva, a Miami company with a new idea for coffee, and already it has some big news.Tierra Nueva has inked a de...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Updated: 7 hours ago
It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

BROOKSVILLE — Black follows blue in the berry patches of Hernando County, but blackberry proponents claim they’re worth waiting for.Today’s blackberry brambles are thornless and don’t require bending over to pick. Their fruits are mouth-full juicier,...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon has been providing facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando for only a few dollars a month, according to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, paving the way for a rollou...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Tampa is facing major landscape changes as projects like Water Street Tampa gear up. But despite the ongoing and upcoming major development, a new CommercialCafé study says, downtown Tampa has a big challenge with the least amount of vacant land of a...
Updated: 8 hours ago