By Hazel Ford–
Tiffany Martinez first had the idea of opening up a Mexican snack foods shop after moving to Citrus Heights in 2010 and hearing her kids ask for the foods they loved in Salinas, Calif. The 29-year-old was inspired by one of her three boys, who told her that they needed to open a restaurant while they were drying clothes one day in a laundromat.
Martinez, who had no prior restaurant experience, explained to her kids that it wouldn’t be that easy. Her son, however, insisted they should open a shop to serve shaved ice, mangonadas, and fruit cups.
In the past, Martinez and her husband had kicked around the idea of getting into the food business, but hadn’t thought seriously of opening a restaurant.
“Back in 2011, we bought one of those old mail trucks because we were going to do an ice cream truck,” she said in an interview with The Sentinel on Wednesday. “We refurbished the inside and painted the outside — designed it all and everything. But we kind of left that aside, so now it’s in my backyard rusting.”
The restaurant idea stuck, however, and the couple began taking steps to open the store.
Opening the restaurant took some work, but Martinez was able to convert a vacant, former frozen yogurt shop at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Antelope Road into an inviting and colorful location within just a few months. She got keys to the building in June, and decorated and refurbished it with help from her family.
Martinez told the Sentinel that she had originally wanted to name the restaurant “It’s a Crazy Craving” to reflect the creative and slightly wacky snacks she serves, but her boys didn’t approve. They told her the name didn’t include anything about their cultural background, so Martinez had to come up with something else.
“The majority of our stuff is Hispanic,” she explained. “People are not going to know to come get a raspados (shaved ice) here by ‘It’s a Crazy Craving’.”
That’s when the name “Antojitos Locos” came up, which means “crazy cravings” in Spanish. Her kids loved the name, so it stuck.
Antojitos Locos opened on Aug. 20 this year and serves a variety of unique and flavorful Hispanic treats, including tamales, fruit desserts, ice cream desserts, milkshakes, smoothies, and “crazy” chip mixtures. Martinez explained that most of her food is all-natural and handmade, including the tamales and chili sauce.
The most popular snack she sells is the mangonada, which is a mango smoothie with a hint of chili and tajin seasoning, along with chamoy sauce and a tamarind candy straw. Another popular item is called the “TostiLocos,” which is chips with pickled pork skins and cucumber, cabbage, Japanese peanuts, tamarind candy, and chili sauces.
Third in popularity is “Fresas con Crema,” which she explained is made of strawberries and sweet cream.
Customers have enjoyed the “crazy” snacks, and although the restaurant has only been open for several months, Martinez said she’s already seen profit. As the sole owner and operator, she keeps staff costs down and gets help from her sister when needed. She’s also hopeful that her three boys will be able to have a part in the business later on, and since her family lives just minutes away from the shop, commute costs are kept to a minimum.
The young entrepreneur also has big plans for the future, hoping to open another location in Roseville or Rocklin within the next 3 to 5 years. But at the moment, she’s focusing on expanding the menu, planning to start serving homemade waffles, hot chocolate, and champurrando (Mexican hot chocolate) within a week.
Antojitos Locos is located at 7815 Sunrise Blvd. and is open daily from 12-9 p.m. For more information, see the shop’s Facebook page.