Posted: Monday, June 20, 2016 7:16 am
Hot Tamale Heaven is expanding
Mary Alfordemail@example.com Delta Democrat Times
GREENVILLE — Hot Tamale Heaven won’t just be a drive-through anymore. The owners are opening a new dine-in restaurant on Mississippi 1.
Although Hot Tamale Heaven is a family business that started more than three decades ago by his father, Aaron Harmon and his wife, Natasha, are leading this new endeavor and are full of excitement.
“We’re growing the business. Greenville is the Hot Tamale Capital of the world, so Hot Tamale Heaven has a vested interest in making sure that hot tamales are represented properly in Greenville. Hence why my wife and I decided to open a second location here in Greenville,” he said.
Harmon said they will be pulling out all the stops in the new location.
“We want to represent properly here in Greenville. We have multiple things we are going to carry on the menu,” Harmon said, noting they will have all things hot tamale as well as other items. “We are going to do more than tamales. We’ve been looking around seeing what’s missing and we want to cover the things that are missing in town. I don’t want to let the cat completely out of the bag just yet.”
He said the additional location will have extended hours, though not set yet, and he expects to hire at least 20 people.
“We want to do all we can to make sure Greenville is moving forward and as we know, Washington Avenue and the downtown area is growing; we have a lot of big plans for this area. We’re expanding the business but we’re not forgetting about home,” he said.
And “home” is a concept Harmon wants residents to associate with their new location at 1427 Mississippi 1 South, where they have recently broken ground.
“I want everyone to give us a shot, we’ve been here a long time. People know and love our product. We love serving them. I want them to come out to our new location and look around. I want them to feel at home there. We’re doing it for them, not just for ourselves and our family, we consider everyone in Greenville to be a part of our extended family, so we want them to come home to their extended home and enjoy themselves,” he said.
Harmon said he hopes to have the Mississippi 1 location up and running by this year’s Delta Hot Tamale Festival, Oct. 13-16.
“If everything goes as planned we would love, absolutely love, to be open for the tamale fest. …But if not, we’re going to be open as fast as we can,” he said, noting they will have a soft opening at first to make sure the staff is well trained and the food is excellent.
“We don’t want to rush ourselves, we want to make sure everything is covered.”
A local family business
Harmon said Hot Tamale Heaven began about 35 years ago, when his father and mother, Willie and Inez Harmon, decided to delve into the tamale business.
“I was just a young lad of 6- or 7-years-old. My father started this business, my mother and father. My father at the time was working a factory job that he hated. And someone told him that a man could make a decent living making tamales, which he didn’t have any idea of how to do at that time,” Harmon said, noting his father wasn’t deterred. “He contacted a lady that he knew in Arkansas. … She gave him the rudimentary aspects of making tamales.”
From there, Harmon said his father took her process and her recipe and made it his own, adding his own ingredients into the mix.
Once his father came up with a tamale he liked, he had the family try it as well as some of his friends, all of whom loved the new concoction.
“So (my father) decided to sell tamales in the neighborhood and it took off from there. Everybody liked the recipe. They liked the product. And he began to slowly grow it from that point on,” Harmon said, laughing as he noted he and his five siblings were his father’s first laborers.
“We began to help him in business when we got home for school, and on more than one occasional he would get us out of school if he had a big order for tamales and needed some help,” he said.
But, the tamales were too good to just sell to neighbors. Harmon said they started selling tamales on Washington Avenue and what is now Stein Mart Square. He said often his mother would be set up at Stein Mart Square and his father at the old Greenville Mall location.
“And it took off from there. My brothers and sisters and I we were growing up in the business and sometimes (our father) would take us along with him to watch, to see how he did things, how he treated the customers. …We learned the tricks of the trade and we knew the making process, the rolling process and the selling process,” Harmon said.
And those are skills that Harmon and a few of his siblings continue to use in their shop on U.S. 82, where they’ve been since 2007, as well as their processing plant on Main Street.
“My father and brother pretty much run the factory process. He sells to many fine restaurants all over the Delta and beyond,” Harmon said.
And soon, they’ll soon have one more location for folks to enjoy their tasty tamales.
Their hours at the U.S. 82 location are 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.