Teresa Gutiérrez carries on her family’s legacy at TI Foods

Teresa Gutiérrez emphasizes that TI Foods is a solid company with an excellent reputation and core values including passion, integrity, unity, and respect. As he continues the family legacy, Gutiérrez points out that he thinks a lot about his mother. She remembers how hard she worked and how proud she was of her children. In the photo, from the left: Gustavo, Pita, José and Teresa Gutiérrez. (Courtesy, via Facebook)

By Aleza Freeman

January 15, 2024

When Teresa Gutiérrez, 62, started working at the family company in 1979, “I pretty much had no choice in the matter.” 

She showed up at Los Arcos Tortillas (now TI Foods) and did her part, along with her parents Jose Luis and Felicitas, brother Gustavo “Gus”, and uncle Rosendo (Jr.)–all working together to make 100 pounds of tortillas inside a 400-square-foot room.

Though they struggled at first to keep the operation afloat, the immigrants from  Guadalajara, México, never gave up, even selling tortillas door-to-door. 

This determination to serve the growing Hispanic community in Las Vegas paid off when they began selling tortillas to Las Vegas-based Mexican restaurant Ricardo’s. While the veteran restaurant shuttered after 40 years in 2020, TI Foods persists,

At first, Gutiérrez recalls that she would go to school during the day and work in the TI Foods storefront in the afternoons. Over time, she took on many different roles. As the business and the team grew, so did her responsibilities. 

Today, Tere Gutiérrez leads an all-female executive team and 100 employees making and distributing over 500 products for TI Foods (the umbrella for Tortillas Incorporated, Los Arcos and Garden Valley Food). Products include a variety of corn tortillas, chips, tostadas, masa and salsa–available for purchase online or in the store.

“I’m sure many companies have come, and some gone but we continue the family legacy and that is to give our customers the highest quality at a fair market price,” she says, “from the quality of product we manufacture to the delivery.”

Gutiérrez’s favorite TI Foods product is the taquería chip because they’re addicting with “just enough salt.” Putting on her salesman hat, she adds, they’re a “yummy” addition to any party, especially when paired with the company’s salsa and guacamole.

Recipes for the chips and other products have been created and refined over the years, based on customer requests. These customers include high-profile clients like La Bonita Supermarkets and many local hotel-casino restaurants.

Las Vegas Chef Leticia Mitchell, owner of Leticia’s and lettysdeleticias purchases the spices, Mexican cheeses, custom-made tortillas, Mexican chips, cinnamon, vanilla and more for her restaurants from TI Foods.

My whole goal and passion was to bring the real traditional flavors of Mexico to my community,” says Chef Mitchell, noting that, “Tortillas Inc. was the only one that provided high-quality products and they continue to do so. They stand by their quality and it’s truly traditional high-quality products.”

TI Foods is similarly committed to the local community, and therefore commits to purchasing as much as possible from vendors within Nevada.

“Helping our community is a priority,” says Gutiérrez, referring to her desire to see Las Vegas locals and her workforce thrive.

She emphasizes that TI Foods is a solid company with an excellent reputation and core values including passion, integrity, unity, and respect.  

“This is how we show up every day [and] our team of managers care about their departments,” she says.

Unfortunately, with such a long history in business, there has been some heartbreak along the way.

While the company was considered essential and did not have to shut its doors completely during the COVID-19 pandemic, complications from the highly contagious respiratory illness took the life of Gustavo “Gus” Gutiérrez. 

Her mother, Felicitas, was lost soon after, not from COVID, but what Gutiérrez believes was “a broken heart losing her only son.” 

Then her uncle, who happened to be the spouse of Chef Mitchell, passed away and Gutiérrez’ father, Jose Luis, retired.

“Every one of them made up a special and crucial part of our company,” says Gutiérrez. “I have since then done the best to my abilities to keep the company going. It is difficult to go from working in the business to working on the business. It’s almost like starting over.”

Chef Mitchell believes that Gutiérrez is doing an admirable job. 

“She is like a sister, she is a strong, hard-working woman that I admire,” says the chef. “Teresa stands by her family’s legacy and will continue to do so with the high quality of integrity and respect.”

Thanks to her Mexican heritage, the importance of family has been instilled in Gutiérrez since childhood. So, as TI Foods moves forward, it remains a family affair.

“I find that this next generation–my kids and nieces–have really stepped up,” she says.

As for how she feels about carrying on her family’s legacy, Gutiérrez notes that she thinks about her mom a lot. She remembers how hard she worked and how much pride she took in her children. 

“I love what I do,” says the new matriarch. “I get up every morning with gratitude. I am so blessed to be here running this business with my beautiful family.”

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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