Raquelita's Tortillas Production Facility is 100 Percent Wind-Powered
The tortilla maker uses local corn flour ground in-house for eateries far and wide
RAQUELITA'S TORTILLAS | Product: Food + Beverage| Made in: Denver
Tortilla savant Rich Schneider runs the venerable tortilla factory with his brother, Raul DeLaTorre, and Raul's wife, Mari. The brothers have worked together for 40 years. Their father, Sal DeLaTorre, bought the company, then known as La Popular, in 1960.
Eschewing retail for the food service market, the 25-employee Raquelitas supplies customers ranging from 7-Eleven to the Broadmoor with tortillas, wraps and chips.
"Our business is known for being innovative, for being relevant and for still going strong," says Schneider, who often works with clients on custom recipes.
Many tortillas are made from masa (corn flour) that's ground in-house, and that's an industry rarity. Raquelitas wet-mills its masa in-house for more nutritious products – and a stronger chip. Case in point: 7-Eleven is able to use three ounces of chips instead of four for nachos because Raquelitas' chips are lighter and stronger than the previous supplier's products.
Schneider says the company goes through more than 5 million pounds of ingredients in a year, much of it sourced from Colorado growers. A commitment to all things local is one of the company's calling cards.
Take the Broadmoor. "They wanted indigenous and hyperlocal ingredients," says Schneider, who helped develop a custom chip recipe using cornmeal from the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in southwestern Colorado and sunflower oil from Colorado Mills in Lamar.
Schneider sees Raquelitas as the artisan/craft/hyperlocal alternative to the mass-market tortillas and chips. "We have been singing that song for a long time now," he says. "Those roads all lead to here."
In 2018, demand was outstripping capacity by a large margin, so Schneider and DeLaTorre made the decision to retract from a national market to a more regional one. "The pie grew here [in Colorado]," Schneider says.
And it’s unlikely the brothers will uproot Raquelitas from its increasingly valuable real estate at 31st and Larimer streets. Instead, the wind-powered tortilla factory now sports a colorful mural as Schneider looks for more ways to connect and collaborate with his artsy neighbors.