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Having had many years of cooking and enjoying Mexican food in Southern California, Cheryl Kaheleilani made the decision to move to the clean living of Vermont. Craving fresh tamales but unable to find what she was looking for, Cheryl decided to begin making them herself. Cooking and preparing food was second nature for her, but finding authentic Mexican ingredients 3000 miles away, in a cozy town called Johnson, proved to be a much more challenging endeavor.

Using ingredients she had shipped in from Mexico and locally grown meats and produce, Cheryl began her quest to re-create the authentic Mexican cuisine she knew as a child. The first batch of beef tamales didn’t live up to her expectations, but she refused to give up and made a few adjustments. She brought the second batch to the neighboring Studio Center, where artists with palates from all over the world had an opportunity to critique the new creations. The response was unanimously positive and it was suggested she take her food in front of a larger audience at the local Johnson Farmer’s Market. The fifty tamales she prepared for the market sold out within one hour. The following week, one hundred tamales went in even less time. The writing was on the wall; people were talking and tamales were selling!

After finishing off the Farmer’s Market season with tremendous success, Cheryl settled in for the winter to reflect and plan for the upcoming year. The next few months were anything but restful as locals began knocking on her apartment door in hopes buying a tamale...or five. Throughout the winter, she cooked day and night in the 6 x 6 apartment kitchen. Devoted patrons drove from hours away and waited in her crowded living room or outside in the snow to receive their delicious tamales.

By January of 2011, Cheryl knew beyond a reasonable doubt that her tamale business had outgrown the tiny apartment. Tripling her monthly overhead, she took a leap of faith and signed a lease on a new venue at 75 Rte 100 C for her to prepare Mexican food full-time. She poured her heart into her business and by the end of that year she had sold tamales and an extended menu of authentic Mexican food at over 140 state fairs and markets across Vermont while guests poured in on a weekly basis from neighboring towns as far as Burlington, Montpillier, Essex and Waterbury. 

In late 2011, her daughter, Moana Dixon who has a branding firm that rests on over 13 years in brand management and distribution joined the team as the Hot Tamale Co. was going to take a swing at its first real full service restaurant during the summer/fall of 2012 until the building that housed the business and it’s owners was burned in a fire on August 3rd. As the personal and company assets were not covered by the extensive insurance policy that will amend the rented house and the neighboring building that caught fire, the Hot Tamale Co. team has set out on a new mission to raise funds.  

With an ever growing line of Salsas, the team will modify the plan and focus on another quick serve location that will be heavily outfitted with retail space to sell tamales and other mexican foods to go along with serving up the daily menu that will serve up traditional, authentic Mexican food using the finest ingredients, organic meats and veggies grown by local farmers, along with a side dish of remembrance that not one ounce of this was planned, and every small blessing of this venture has been and will be nothing short of the Grace of God.  

The Hot Tamale Restaurant will be located at 74 Portland St. in Morrisville, VT.  The daily menu will serve up traditional, authentic Mexican food using the finest genuine ingredients, organic meats and veggies grown by local farmers, and a side dish of remembrance that not one ounce of this was planned, and every small blessing of this venture has been nothing short of the Grace of God.​

​who we ARE...
where we came FROM...
After two grueling months trying to hold our lives together, we decided to walk away from what would no doubt be an ugly insurance battle to recover our losses. Instead, chose to move forward and re-create the Hot Tamale Co.  We signed a lease in Morrisville, VT, with the promise that we would be able to captivate the town's local funding as we would be hitting a home run in all of the necessary areas: 

our first kitchen
our Chef
first to-go location 
after the fire @ our to-go in Johnson, VT
where we're GOING...
our second to-go location 

  • a proven track record of 3 successful years and a great plan for a new space but most importantly: an answer the call for much needed employment opportunities 
  • an existing loyal consumer base that has consistently drawn from a large geographic territory across Northern VT that would invite locals and commuters into the town of Morrisville not only for us, but for neighboring businesses
  • amazing food that is sourced by supporting local farmers: keeping families alive and growing
  • we're so much MORE than just a restaurant, we are a VT organic product line that is sustained by local farms: a Vermont Brand that we will be looking to distribute across New England proclaiming the richness of Vermont produce and organic goods
Considering that we lost everything except the clothes on our backs, we were surprisingly denied the town's discretionary funding due to our lack of collateral (all of which we lost in a fire...). We are mid-construction, and looking now to the community who has built us, and to whom we hope to support by buying local produce, creating more hand crafted, organic, artisinal, and authentic Mexican food.

We have a solid plan of action and are aiming for success as we've done it before; but we need your help to recreate a space that embodies the richly intertwined culture of Mexico in Vermont. We invite you to stop by 74 Portland St. in Morrisville any day of the week at almost any hour to witness or help my mother and I recreate our business and lives with our own hands, nail by nail, board by board.  

By placing high quality items on shelves and ultimately in the mouths of our families, we believe we can help illustrate the necessity of organic farm raised food, helping our neighbors help us grow, as we collectively to become something greater, stronger, more fulfilling, more able to give back. 
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