Baseball and hot dogs are a classic patriotic combo, but baseball and tamales could soon be another combo clásico. Ever since 2006 when D-backs president Derrick Hall got a taste of one of Rey Cota’s tamales, Cota has been living a dream, making and selling his tamales at Chase Field for every home game, with support from his wife Martha and four other employees.
Elevator pitch: I make red chili tamales and green corn tamales sold at my stand near Section 137 at Chase Field Ballpark, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. What makes my business great is I can offer to all the fans that come to the baseball games something different and unique from the same old hot dog, popcorn or chicken tenders and fries. Once the fans try one of our tamales, they come back for more.
Where are you from? I grew up in Guadalupe, Arizona, which is about one square mile, a small town with a population of about 6000 Hispanics residents and Yaqui descendants, where everybody knows each other. My grandparents Ramón and Francisca Cota arrived here in 1952 from Mexico. I still live in Guadalupe.
What prompted you to start your own business? My parents, Reynaldo Cota Sr. and Gloria Cota. They had the idea of opening up a restaurant when they were younger, but with Dad working a full-time job and Mom raising four kids, it was kind of hard for them to start their own business.
Whose recipe is behind your tamales? The recipe belongs to my mother … I named the company using our first names, Rey and Gloria. She has always been a great cook and has many recipes for authentic Mexican foods. But we’re known for the tamales.
What else do you sell besides tamales at your Chase Field stand? I only sell the red chile tamale and green corn tamale, but I am working to convince Chase Field to sell my red chile and green chile burritos, which are amazing, too. I also cater on the side, for weddings, private company parties and quinceañeras, or whatever comes along.
Who has inspired you? Several people … My parents; both were hard workers in their prime and are still going strong … My wonderful wife, who is always there for me. Also Victor Flores and Derrick Hall; if it wasn’t for their help, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.
Best advice you’ve heard: From my parents, to never forget where I come from and remember the people who helped me get to where I am, and to always give back to the community and help those less fortunate than me.
Business highlights: Being in Latino Perspectives, Arizona Highways and D-backs Insider. Working at Chase Field and all the publicity and support that came with it, from Derrick Hall and everyone who helped me along the way.
Plans for the future/next step: I want to open up a fast-food takeout restaurant and sell my tamales at Costco, Sam’s Club and a few grocery stores. I also want to open my own operation outside of Chase Field.