Masa call: Alicia Factor finds success with small businesses


MOSES LAKE – Alicia Factor has plans for her business, works to grow it, and someday plans her own store. And Alicia’s Tamales Express is due to her mother.

Her mother, Emma Renteria, was a good cook and she loved to prepare and eat one of the staples for special occasions in Mexico.

“She was a tamale lover,” Factor said. “She loved tamales. And she got to the place where she got sick, and she couldn’t win no more. “

Factor was taking care of her mother and she was expressing a wish for tamales.

“And I said, ‘Mom, I don’t know how to do them. And she said, ‘I’ll show you.’ And three, four tries, it got to the point where I was able to satisfy his desires. This is where it all began.

After Renteria’s death, Factor continued to make tamales, and they were a hit wherever she went, she said. She gained more experience in making tamales, refined the recipe, and became known for her tamale-making skills. Family and friends were asking for them, and finally, around 2016, the word was spreading.

“People started ordering more, from companies like Simplot, their people started ordering from me, then from Washington Bean Company, then from some insurance companies in town,” she said.

Her brother-in-law encouraged her to consider making a business out of it, but she hesitated. Traditionally, tamales have been a special occasion dish for Christmas and birthdays, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s celebrations. There’s a reason for this, because while tamales seem like a simple dish, they aren’t. And Factor said none of its ingredients are packaged.

“Everything is from scratch,” she said. “So that’s a lot of work. It’s hard to make tamales.

Her sister Estella Segura also encouraged her and offered to help her. So Factor thought it over and spoke to Grant County Health District inspectors to find out what would be needed to sell his tamales in the store.

The response was a little overwhelming, with a lot of restrictions and rules. She tentatively decided not to open a business, but Segura continued to encourage her.

“She said, ‘No, I’ll help you. We’re going to do it, ”Factor said.

She still hesitated, because trading it meant making a lot of tamales. But Segura said they could do it, as long as Factor oversaw the process. So Factor and Segura opened a business.

“We did it and it was a success,” she said.

Their first place of business was the 2021 Moses Lake Farmer’s Market. The most popular options at Alicia’s Tamales Express include beef, pork and beans, and cheese with jalapeños. She rents a kitchen at the Grant County Fairgrounds for the assembly process, and they are cooked at the market.

Factor said she expects a good response from Farmer’s Market patrons, but not as good as she has been.

“(Customers) were like, ‘Oh, I parked my car, and something smelled so good, and I said, I’m going to find out where the smell is coming from. There you go. And we say,’ Yeah, you you are in the right place. ”

They bring what seems to be a lot of tamales.

“We take 50 to 60 dozen of them,” Factor said. “The reason we’re not taking more is that we need more hands. That’s all we can do.

Every Saturday from May through October, the market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Factor said she expects it to take all day to sell. But this is not the case.

“We sell in the first hour,” she said. “In the first hour and a few minutes. We’re not even there until 1pm, ”she said.

A tamale begins with a dry corn husk, which is spread with masa, a dough made from ground corn. The cook then adds the filling, which can be salty or sweet, and wraps the mixture in the corn husk. They are steamed. This is not as easy as it might sound, especially when making 600-700 tamales.

The factor starts with masa and leavening agents mixed with lard and water.

“We shuffle and shuffle for quite a while. By hand, ”she said.

She spreads the masa mixture over the corn husk and adds the filling. The tamales go in the steamer for about 90 minutes.

The masa mix is ​​perfect when – well, it’s hard to say.

“I wish I could tell you how (say).” It’s all in my hands, ”Factor said. “And the water and the ingredients, the cooking time, have a lot to do with the (end product).”

A tamale cook benefits from the experience, she says.

“You have to know what you are doing, and trust me, you have to know your recipe,” she said.

For the first Factor year, Segura and their assistants Ramona Urias and Luis F. Segura mainly worked with the same equipment used by home cooks.

“Next year we are planning to purchase our (commercial) mixers, which will make things a lot easier,” she said.

Eventually, she wants to open her own store, she said.

“I think probably in a year or so, to open a small food business,” she said. “It all depends on where we are. If all goes well I see it as a go.

She is sure she has a good product.

“Some people bought a tamale or two tamales and we were like, ‘Are you sure? Because we will soon run out. And of course they would come back and guess what? We ran out of tamales, ”she said.


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