Carrillos Cooked Up Recipe for Success
Despite the plethora of fast-food restaurants and grocery stores and competition from other Mexican markets in the area, the Carrillo Tortilleria has been selling homemade tortillas for more than 50 years to Valley residents.
In 1933, farm workers Emelio and Guadalupe Carrillo brought their six children to the San Fernando Valley when flooding drove them from Santa Paula.
Here, Emelio found work as a laborer in orange and walnut orchards and as a construction worker, and in 1944, the couple bought a small, tile-roofed store on Pico Street in San Fernando from which they sold Lupe’s tortillas.
Although the couple’s large brood worked at the tortilla factory while growing up, their daughter Amelia Carrillo Luna was the only one to take a long-term interest in the business.
She and her husband, Epigmenio “Pime” Luna, bought the store from her parents in 1964. With the help of their five children, the business has grown to include Simi Valley and Granada Hills stores.
Family members said the secret to their longevity has been to remain true to Guadalupe’s original recipes for handmade tortillas, and later the family recipes for tamales and sauces.
“We’ve thought about making changes,” said William Luna, who runs the original San Fernando store, “but we never would, because if we change things our customers who’ve been coming here for years, they know right away. We get feedback quickly.”
The Carrillo Tortilleria is the major purveyor of handmade tortillas in the Valley, where it is becoming harder to find tortillas made the old-fashioned way.
One reluctant concession the store made to the changing times was to use a machine to make flour tortillas, to handle the nearly 3,000 dozen orders they fill each week. But Carrillo Tortilleria continues to employ women who make tamales and 1,500 dozen corn tortillas per week by hand.
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