SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — The holidays may be the time to celebrate with family, put up a Christmas tree and holiday lights, but they are also peak tamale season. 

Romauldo and Yesenia Barrera own Tamales Express in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

What You Need To Know

  • Tamales Express is located in Canyon Country and opened about three years ago

  • They expect to make 10,000 tamales on Christmas Eve

  • They started talking orders in October

  • The restaurant might have to stop taking orders by the end of November

Romauldo Barrera said he initially opened the restaurant that focuses on tamales because he wanted to make sure he could have them all year long. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his wife saw sales drop about 40%, but instead of cutting employees, they expanded. They started selling at local swap meets to widen their reach and even invested in a food truck. As a result, they sold more tamales and kept their employees.

Once places started opening up, they continued to grow to sell at local sporting events. 

"We would see so many people and the line just wouldn't stop and everybody would just keep on coming," Yesenia Barrera said. 

Romauldo Barrera adds that "it's grown a lot" because they started with five employees, including him and his wife, and now they're at 17 employees.  

Now, they are in peak tamale season, and demand is higher than ever. They sell about 700 tamales a day, and on Sundays, their busiest day, they sell about 2,000. On Christmas Eve, they already expect to make about 10,000 tamales. 

"This year we may stop Christmas orders in November just because 10,000 tamales is almost impossible to make in one day," Romauldo Barrera said.

They say they're ready for the challenge and love being a part of people's holiday traditions. When it comes to the popularity of their tamales, Romauldo Barrera said it's not just about the ingredients they use. 

"The tamale is like a person, the tamale feels who makes him. If you're mad and you're not happy, the tamale won't cook, it will stay raw," he said, adding it's about who makes the tamales that makes a difference.