IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California hot sauce plant that came under fire for its spicy odors is throwing open its doors to the public, offering a whiff of excitement and perhaps a breath of fresh air in its relations with its neighbors.
As many as 3,000 people are expected to visit the factory that makes Sriracha hot sauce over the weekend in this eastern Los Angeles suburb. The factory is holding its first open houses to kick off the chili harvest season.
During a 20-minute walk through the 650,000-square-foot facility, visitors can watch chili grinding; sample Sriracha-flavored ice cream, popcorn and chocolate caramels; visit the new gift shop; and take photos with a cardboard cutout of David Tran, CEO of plant owner Huy Fong Foods.
Tran gave an explanation for opening the factory doors when he previously had been secretive about its trade secrets and customized machinery.
"To prove we make hot sauce, we don't make tear gas," Tran told the Pasadena Star-News (http://bit.ly/1mzJmjV ).
Irwindale, the Los Angeles suburb of about 1,500 people, had sued the company and declared the plant a public nuisance after some nearby residents complained of an eye-watering, throat-closing odor during grinding season.
Tran began offering small tours to visitors from all over the U.S. and Canada, and several politicians said they wouldn't mind if he moved his $60 million company to their areas.
But in May, an agreement was forged between the city and Tran with the help of representatives from Gov. Jerry Brown's Business and Economic Development Office. The city dropped its nuisance declaration and lawsuit.
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