Hispanic Heritage Month: Tortilleria La Bamba fills a need in Cleveland food scene

Owner Leticia Ortiz was recently honored by Vice President Kamala Harris

Tortilleria La Bamba opened in 2009 and has continued to expand into other products in the last decade. (Photos courtesy of Tortilleria La Bamba)

By Laura DeMarco

Leticia Ortiz saw a void in the Cleveland food scene: not enough tortillas.

She decided to fill it. In 2009, she and her sister Enedina Ortiz, founded Tortilleria La Bamba

to provide fresh, high-quality tortillas to restaurants in Northeast Ohio.

“We began Tortilleria La Bamba 2009 to fill a need for local restaurants,” she said on a recent call. “There weren’t enough local makers of tortillas, and the restaurant business was growing tremendously.”

At first, they were a two-woman operation. “We visited the restaurants, we took orders, we made the tortillas, we delivered them, we did everything.”

Today, they have their own manufacturing facility with 18 full-time employees and nearly 100 clients around the Midwest.

“We deal with a lot of ‘American’ restaurants now, too, not just Mexican,” said Ortiz.

The sisters also added a second business: La Bamba Foods.

“We started this in 2012 because we saw another need to be filled,” she explained.

“When we delivered our tortillas to restaurants, people would say, ‘can you also bring the spices? Do you have Mexican drinks, or peppers?’

“Restaurants wanted to order from one vendor. We wanted to make it easier for them, so we began ordering spices and canned foods to sell to our customers. There was a need for these products.”

They have also launched Fiesta AmigosTM, a premium line of food products they manufacture.

Ortiz’s recipe for success includes personal, one-on-one customer service.

“We have a one-on-one relationship with all of our customers,” she said. “We are so blessed and thankful. Whatever they need, they know we are here.”

 

Leticia Ortiz was invited to a Latino Small Business Owners reception at the Vice President’s residence last week. (Photo courtesy of Ortiz)

This was especially true during the pandemic, she said, when local suppliers were vital to many businesses.

Today, Ortiz’s business continues to expand. She is in the process of looking for a larger facility that can host both a manufacturing plant and their wholesale warehouse. She is working with the MBDA at Greater Cleveland Partnership in identifying a property to purchase and scale up her operation

“The Center makes a big difference for small businesses, and immigrant-owned businesses,” she said.

“There are so many opportunities out there, but when you are a small business you don’t necessarily know where to look. You don’t have access to that information and don’t have the time.”

Ortiz, who moved to Cleveland 22 years ago from Mexico, said the city is an ideal location for an immigrant-owned business.

“The people are very welcoming,” she said. “Cleveland is very rich in different cultures, and that gives you the opportunity to meet so many different people, try different foods and have different experiences. We have been blessed with great customers and employees. We are so thankful.

Her businesses are getting noticed beyond the city, too. Just last week, Ortiz was invited by Vice President Kamala Harris to a reception honoring Latino-owned small businesses.

“We are so grateful for our success,” she said. “We came to this country, to be successful, to make an impact and to give back what we have received from the country.”

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Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Inclusive Opportunity.