By Ashleigh Swan
Adam Gonzalez’s family has been in the food service business since he was 8 years old. But like so many others in the past year, their business became a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit in March, it took the food service business down to 75 percent,” Gonzelez said.
As a result, Gonzalez, a Westfield resident, pivoted to selling retail products, a goal he’d already been pursuing.
“We are fortunate that we had something we were already doing,” he said. “(COVID-19) just forced us to do it faster.”
With a finalized product, Gonzalez knew the next step was to let supermarkets try samples. One supermarket he went into was the Carmel Market District, where, without an appointment, he asked Rick Hopkins, food and beverage director, to try his product, Viva Tia Maria’s.
“I got a good reception from (Hopkins), but I didn’t hear from him in over a week, so I went back in to see him,” Gonzalez said.
Despite Gonzalez’s apprehensions, Hopkins said he liked the product and was going to give Viva Tia Maria an opportunity, so he launched the line during the NFL playoff season.
“It brought the biggest smile to my face,” Gonzalez said. “Anyone can make good products, but to get a chance is not easy and we appreciate that.”
Viva Tia Maria’s products include queso, tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Gonzalez said he’s working to add yellow queso, avocado sauce and an array of kettle-cooked products like rice and beans to the company’s product offerings.
“We want to stay ahead of the curve, keep things exciting and improve on our process,” Gonzalez said.