DETROIT

Maria's Comida, Hamtramck Eatery, Closes To Ramp Up Salsa Production

07/18/2012 09:26 am ET | Updated Jul 18, 2012

While Hamtramck's only Mex-Asian fusion restaurant will be closing up shop next month, loyal patrons won't have to lose out on the spicy sauces of Maria's Comida.

The four-year-old, family-owned business will close on August 18 in order to ramp up production for their line of salsas and sauces, said Marie Pronko, who is part-owner (her other titles are sister and daughter).

"We're revamping our entire product line," Pronko said. "It's more of a healthy approach, and we're making more of our own products. You'll see ingredients coming off the labels."

Under the name Maria's House Made Salsa, Pronko, along with her father and executive chef Alan, brother Fred and mother Angela, have been jarring salsa and barbeque sauce, expanding into different flavors, including new favorite Smoked Ghost Pepper. Until now, all production happened on Sunday and Monday when the restaurant was closed. The family would move the machines aside Tuesday to serve hungry patrons looking for Mex-Asian fusion cuisine -- a fitting restaurant for the ethnically-diverse Hamtramck enclave.

As orders increased on sales of Maria's House Made Salsa for over a year, the family decided to shift their focus to production.

"We're such a small, family-run operation," Pronko explained, "that it's not possible to do both. It's like trying to juggle two businesses."

"We kind of feel like if our concept was on a bigger scale, with a liquor license, that sort of thing, we could make more profit with it. But we don't have any regrets."

The salsas are currently sold at Eastern Market, metro Detroit specialty grocery stores and a few farther-flung shops. Pronko says they hope to make it onto Whole Foods shelves. They also have some new recipe ideas brewing.

Maria's Comida currently employs three other people, each with another job, who may be continuing on with the company. They plan to keep short retail hours at the same location.

While Pronko said she'll miss seeing customers every day, she's ready for the new step. Change has always been part of her identity, from engineering a complete menu overhaul or leaving her earlier career as a social worker.

"It's kind of bittersweet, but ... we're excited," she said. "We wanted to have the opportunity to reach more people."

"It's something that with full attention we can make explode."

Now that Maria's Comida will soon be closed, you might need to start cooking for yourself. Below, check out some grilling tips from Les Molnar, the chef over at Detroit's Green Dot Stables.

Green Dot Stables Chef Les Molnar Offers Grilling Tips For 4th Of July

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