Meet the women behind a growing salsa business

Sept. 11, 2020

A mother-daughter team is building a following for their fresh salsas and expanding into pop-up Mexican food stands with the goal of opening a food truck and eventually a restaurant someday.

Patricis Burbine and Marcela Salas of Salas Salsas started selling their salsa verde and salsa roja in July at the Brandon Farmers Market.

More customers are discovering them, and many keep coming back – one woman buys four containers of salsa verde every week to keep her family happy, Burbine said. The women have expanded their offerings to include pico de gallo, jalapeno lime salsa, tamales, tortillas and totopos, or chips.

They work 16-hour days on Thursdays and Fridays in their Sioux Falls kitchen to prep the food for the market.

“It’s been a little overwhelming, I’d say, because we’re both working,” Salas said. She’s a pharmacy technician at Walgreens, and Burbine works in maintenance at the Gourley Building.

But they are doing what they love, and they realize their opportunity to build a business is happening.

“So this is (my) dreams because my whole life this is ‘maybe someday I’ll open a restaurant,’ ” said Burbine, who followed her then-husband from Mexico to the United States with their three young daughters in 1999. She ended up raising the girls by herself in Omaha, cleaning houses to earn a living, and eventually meeting her now-husband at church there. He’s a flight paramedic, and they moved to Sioux Falls four years ago for his work. Throughout the years, she cooked for friends and her husband’s co-workers and brought food to meals at church.

“All the time, people say, ‘Oh, I loved your food.’ … Maybe one day (I’ll open a restaurant.) And one day. And now — start! I don’t see this is (actually happening). Really, start this?”

The fast growth has surprised the women.

“It’s crazy because we just literally started this two months ago, and we have so much good feedback from people,” Salas said. “We’re just crying all the time; we’re so blessed.”

With the goal of someday having a food truck – they actually have an old bread truck sitting in storage – they’ve started pop-up food stands to test out their tacos and quesadillas.

Their recipes aren’t from one particular region of Mexico. The family is from Veracruz, but Burbine’s father worked in road construction, so they moved around Mexico, and she picked up each area’s style of cooking.

They’ll have a pop-up food stand Saturday at the Brandon Farmers Market and will be the first pop-up stand at the new Brookings Commercial Kitchen on Sept. 26. The new venture in downtown Brookings invited Burbine and Salas to come up earlier this month to do promotional videos showing how to make their tacos, tortillas and one of their salsas.

The Brandon Farmers Market runs through October, and Salas has created an e-commerce site so customers can continue to find their products through the winter. They’re working on a salsa recipe that can be canned, so it could be shipped, but that might take some work because they want to ensure a quality product, she said.

They’re also considering the use of a commercial kitchen at some point, which would allow them to sell their salsas retail stores. Under the state’s  cottage food law, they’re able to cook out of their kitchen and sell at the farmers market. They’ve also been stocking their salsas at Cherry Rock Farms near Brandon.

The business is young, so they have a lot of work in front of them, Salas said. But she’s inspired by her mother, who is “becoming the businesswoman I’ve always seen her to be.”

Salas went to culinary school in Omaha and also obtained a private pilot’s license with the dream of becoming a commercial pilot. She gave up that pursuit because of the expense but is finding herself becoming a businesswoman too.

“My whole mind-set switched; I’m listening to small-business podcasts, following people on YouTube, reaching out to SCORE. We’re hoping to reach out to the SBA afterwards too.”

Salas Salsas is growing, based on their commitment of these two women and their connection to food.

“My grandma, she never learned to read or write, but she could remember every recipe she was ever told. And so it was kind of engraved in us,” Salas said. “We love food. It’s our language. It’s our comfort.”

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Meet the women behind a growing salsa business

This mother-daughter team are pursing their dream of having a restaurant someday, starting with selling their salsa at the Brandon Farmers Market.

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