CNM’s Small Business Development Center Helps Support Local Restaurant in National Spotlight
Cocina Azul's Chile Relleno chips, left, are one of five new flavors.

CNM’s Small Business Development Center Helps Support Local Restaurant in National Spotlight

The SBDC at CNM has been providing business coaching to Cocina Azul, which recently collaborated with Lay’s on their new Chile Relleno chip flavor
August 05, 2020

Chile rellenos have been a staple on the menu at Cocina Azul ever since the restaurant opened 11 years ago. Now, their recipe is getting national attention after it became the basis for a new chile relleno flavored chip that was released last month by Lay’s. 

“When we flew down to the corporate kitchen in Dallas to work on the recipe we really wanted to create something that captured the full flavor of the relleno instead of just focusing on the cheese, or the chile, etc.,” says Frank Barela Jr., the general manager at Cocina Azul.

The chips were one of five new flavors released. Other flavors included Kettle Cooked New York Style Pizza, Nashville Hot Chicken, Philly Cheesesteak,and Carnitas Street Taco. Chile Relleno was so popular that the chips immediately sold out in the southwest region and the company is trying to restock.

All the attention has been important for Cocina Azul, which like many small businesses, has been struggling during the pandemic.

“While I wish we were in a different situation, we’re really glad to have participated and we’re thankful for anything that will help the bottom line,” Frank says.

Lay’s didn’t buy the recipe but will be providing Cocina Azul with a $25,000 donation that they can use to help with the economic downturn.

To help ensure they stay open, Cocina Azul has also turned to the Small Business Development Center at CNM. The center helped them apply for the Paycheck Protection Program and is still working with them to track down grants and funding.

Fran Fernandez, the SBDC at CNM interim director, is also making sure the restaurant gets as much attention as possible. 

“Especially now during COVID-19, it’s great that this happened to someone in our local community,” she says. “It’s incredible to see someone from here making it on a national scale.” 

Frank says the restaurant is grateful to have the SBDC at CNM on their side.

“They’ve been a great resource and are always there for whatever we need,” he says.

In terms of the chips, Frank suggests people try them a couple times (when they become available again). The flavor profile is complex and people will find something new to like each time. 

“Really the more you eat them, the more you can taste all the different aspects,” he says.