By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 7/21/19
Randy McMillan, owner of The Fresh Chile Company, is hoping to open his new chile roasting business in time for the fall harvest, just weeks away. He’s working with Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) to bring in the natural gas he must have to roast the chiles. On this day: a test roast. McMillan says, “I’ve been so impressed with the speed with which LCU has come out to help, any expectation I may have had they’ve completely exceeded.”
The location - a part of what was Pro’s Ranch Market on El Paseo - is alive with workers taking down the old market signs and moving refrigerators to new areas. The old market will now be a new bottle production facility for The Fresh Chile Company’s well-known and much-loved Hatch Chile salsas. Instead of dried powder (which their competitors use), this local salsa goes with its name, using just-roasted chiles to pop into their jars.
It’s time to put the gas to the test, making sure that the flames of the brand new chile roaster springs into action. For The Fresh Chile Company, a most critical component of their upcoming success is the gas connection for their roasters.
“We’re making sure that the gas lines work right for their roasters,” explained Andy Sanchez, LCU Gas pressure & service supervisor, onsite with his crew. “This project is about calibrating the gas pressure and making sure the business has the correct gas flow to supply the roasters adequately and safely.”
“Businesses come to us with unique requests and we try our best to make sure to find a solution that works for both them as our customer and us as their service provider,” explained Lucio Garcia, LCU deputy director for Gas. “We’re part of the same community and we want to see our businesses thrive. If we can be a part of that, it’s a win for everyone.”
The Fresh Chile Company hopes to pack plenty of roasters into the back of their new space, allowing the yearly anticipated aroma waft through the area. Soon, the new company will be hiring new employees ready to pack and ship the salsa, even perhaps to Colorado, where Colorado residents can get a taste of the best chiles - the fresh Hatch Chiles - from New Mexico.
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Gas Measurement Technician, Jeff Griffith, pours fresh chiles into the roaster for a test run at The Fresh Chile Company on El Paseo. LCU works with business’s special needs to make sure they have a great shot at success.