Baking His Fortune
updated 08/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT
¡Claro que sí! Martinez is shipping some 4,000 cases a month—1.4 million cookies—to restaurants and schools in 38 states. Named Takitos—for little tacos—each cinnamon-flavored cookie contains a proverb, known in Spanish as a dicho, in both Spanish and English. (Example: Saber es poder; knowledge is power.) Ricardo Ruiz Jr., who runs a Cha-Cha's restaurant in San Antonio, says he was skeptical at first, but now his diners are often happy to top off a meal of enchiladas or tostadas with Takitos. Says Ruiz: "It sends them off with a laugh and a smile."
Which has put Martinez, 56, in a good mood too. He was out of work and nearly broke when in 1995 he launched the Takito business. At first he traveled to mom-and-pop Mexican eateries across the country, and now he focuses on the big Mexican chains, working 15-hour days from his spacious three-bedroom home in San Antonio's Oak Hills section. Still, he keeps dreaming. His latest: a cone-shaped tortilla he dubbed the Tacono. Filled with meat and vegetables, it becomes a sort of leak-resistant handheld fajita. One advantage: You don't need a Tie Guard.