By SHEL SEGAL
Mini tour buses were stationed outside the Sriracha factory on Azusa Canyon Road in Irwindale, given the job of providing visitors a tour of the hot sauce plant, according to a published report.
The two 14-seat golf carts – called Hot 1 and Hot 2 – were giving visitors a comfortable look at the plant, a company official said, adding they were also keeping with the hot sauce spirit by being painted the same color as the hot chili sauce.
With the busy chili grinding season starting in August, Huy Foods CEO David Tran said he is anticipating a steady trove of visitors coming to the plant to see the bright red jalapeno peppers get crushed into sauce.
Those peppers are grown by Underwood Ranches in Kern and Ventura counties. In addition, a job fair was held on Friday at the plant by a staffing agency to hire 50 seasonal workers for the 16-week grinding season, when the factory runs three shifts six days a week, according to that report.
The report added the factory now offers “The Rooster Room,” featuring kitschie merchandise with the famous logo of a bird. The room will sell T-shirts, socks, bags, hats, underwear, coffee mugs and posters from companies that use the Huy Fong logo.
“The Rooster Room” was a late addition because Tran said he wanted to focus just on making sauce. However, he said visitors to the plant were asking where they could buy Sriracha souvenirs.
Visitors have also been asking for a tasting room, according to their surveys.
“Since Tran opened the doors to his plant in February amid a legal battle with the city of Irwindale and complaints that harsh chili odors seeping from the factory caused health concerns, more than 1,200 visitors have toured the plant,” according to that report.
Visitors to the plant have then come far and wide, including a Texas state representative and state senator, a congressman from the San Fernando Valley and Irwindale’s mayor and city officials, who declared the plant a public nuisance, according to that report. Visitors have also come from Hawaii, Japan, Thailand and Canada.
If you’re really excited about the chili grinding season, the company is hosting an open house on Aug. 22 and 23. And all in Irwindale will be anxious to see “if the filtration system that Tran has installed is effective once the plant begins grinding the chilies,” according to that report.
To schedule a tour or to visit the Rooster Room, call (626) 286-8328.
(Shel Segal can be reached at email@example.com. He can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)