Small business owners are big dreamers by nature. Some might even call them crazy. And then there is Modesto’s Mango Crazy.
The Modesto business specializes in Mexican street food-inspired dishes made with fresh fruit and savory spices, including its signature mango. Since launching in 2014 with a shop in the Village One Plaza shopping center, Mango Crazy expanded about a year later to a second, drive-thru location on Kansas Avenue.
And now, well, the sky — or more like the wharf — is the limit. The locally owned business is opening a new location in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf this fall. The ambitious new site is just the first in a planned expansion for the company, which was started by two childhood friends from Modesto.
“We’re thinking big at the moment,” said Andy Lopez, who founded Mango Crazy with Larry Rivera. “We had a lot of plans back when we started, but what held us up was being unfamiliar with the process. We were approached about expanding before, but didn’t have the right network.”
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But then the two Downey High graduates were approached by fellow Modesto native Wayne Green, who now lives in San Francisco. Green and his family tried Mango Crazy’s food — which ranges from sweet-and-sour fruit cups to Mexican street corn bowls, seafood ceviche dishes, ice cream and smoothies — while in Modesto for his wife’s bridal shower.
They fell in love instantly with the flavors, which draw heavily on Mexican seasoning staples like chamoy and tajin, and the Enochs High graduate reached out to the pair to talk about investing.
That was April of last year, and a few months later, they were talking serious expansion. Green introduced the men to his brother-in-law, who has founded and invested in various tech and retail developments in the past. And then Mango Sanity (get it, not crazy) was formed to invest and take Mango Crazy statewide and then, hopefully, national.
“We saw a great concept that we think is unique,” Green said. “It’s something that is not very mainstream, but also we saw a strong team in Andy and Larry. Their work ethic has been unparalleled They just needed a business mindset to help them expand. They had all the tools, and I could help take them to the next level.”
The partners have leased a space on Jefferson Street, just west of popular Pier 39 and across from the Pier 43 ferry arch. Once opened, the 1,365-square-foot space, which is right next to a new Starbucks on the newly remodeled Zephyr Walk, will be the largest Mango Crazy to date.
Between their two existing Modesto stores, Lopez and Rivera have about 20 employees. To staff the new Fisherman’s Wharf spot, they’ll need about 25.
The team is in the process of installing and renovating the San Francisco space now and hopes to be open by late October or early November. After that, they plan to expand to another three to five stores across the state, from the East Bay and Sacramento to Los Angeles. And from there, Green said, the company could go national and become a franchise.
It’s all a big leap for the friends, who grew up a couple houses from each other in south Modesto. When they started Mango Crazy, Rivera and Lopez both still had their day jobs in marketing and construction, respectively. They’ve since gone into Mango Crazy full-time and said they’re thrilled to have partnered with Green’s group. And they’re excited to be able to bring their concept to more people.
“For someone who’s never tried it, it’s very different and unique,” Rivera said. “We’ve taken what is generally sold on streets and shops of Mexico and cleaned it up in Starbucks-style stores. We’re building from the bottom up and sharing our culture through our food.”
Find Mango Crazy in Modesto at 3020 Floyd Ave. and 615 Kansas Ave. For more information, visit http://mangocrazy.com.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
If you’re looking for a new ways to make a couple bucks and help save the planet, you’re in luck.
Local family owned business Clarissa’s Recycling Centers is opening its fourth site in the Central Valley. Their latest location opens Sept. 1 at 2201 McHenry Ave., just north of Bowen Avenue.
Clarissa’s Recycling are California CRV-certified centers that pay for aluminum, glass, plastic and bimetal. The family started the business in 2017 after six years experience in the field. Their other locations are at 1460 Mitchell Road in Ceres, 1022 Frontage Road in Ripon and 615 Paradise Road in Modesto.
The centers are open daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.