RHS grad new business owner
By By Jason Cannon
Franklin County Times
ATHENS – Like most of her classmates, when April (Green) White graduated from Russellville High School in 2002, she set out with the intention of going to college, possibly becoming the world's next great veterinarian.
Now, more than five years later, she's still not a veterinarian.
But she is co-owner of Tortillas Blanco – a North Alabama restaurant and tortilla manufacturer that's gaining nationwide recognition.
"It's funny how some things turn out," she said. "I never even dreamed of this."
What she never dreamed of is being the queen of a small tortilla manufacturing and restaurant empire in Athens.
April and her husband, Mark, started their factory in October 2005, where they make fresh tortillas and chips.
"My grandfather used to go on mission trips to Mexico a lot, and he took me with him," Mark said. "The food down there was just incredible and fresh."
By the time Mark grew up, he thrust himself into the workforce but said nothing really settled for him.
"April had to put up with me working a lot of jobs while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do," he said. "Finally I was selling insurance, and I wasn't selling a lot of it, and I just decided that this is what I wanted to do."
April and Mark found a tortilla manufacturer in Oregon who was willing to share his recipe, train them on how to make quality goods and use the machinery.
After an eight-day training session in the Pacific Northwest, the couple found a building in Athens, filled it with equipment and opened their doors to the public.
As 2005 turned into 2006, the Whites launched a companion restaurant to complement the factory, which supplies all its chips and tortillas.
"April gets up every morning at 4:30 to press out the dough at the factory," Mark said.
"By 9:30, we leave the factory and go to the restaurant and get ready to open."
In the nearly 12 months the restaurant has been open, the list of patrons have included Pat Dye, Gene Stallings and Gov. Bob Riley.
A bag of the Tortillas Blanco's cinnamon sugar chips recently found their way to the White House.
"When the President was in Athens in July at the nuclear plant, we had a bunch of people with bags that might come in contact with his associates," Mark said. "The mayor of Athens said he gave a bag to someone that looked official."
Mark said he wasn't satisfied with wondering who that official may or may not have been, so he took matter into his own hands.
"I went down to the post office and mailed him a letter and some chips," he said.
A few weeks later, the Whites received a personal letter from President and Mrs. Bush, thanking them for their package.
Tortillas Blanco has also been named one of the Top 20 restaurants in North Alabama by the Huntsville Times, has been featured on FOX-6 news in Birmingham and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Southern Living.
The Whites' restaurant is located at 113 West Market Street in Athens, and is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And as for her career as a veterinarian, April said she hasn't totally put that idea on the shelf.
"The goal is to continue to grow and one day franchise Tortillas Blanco," she said. "Then Mark and I can sit back and relax or move on to some other things."
April White is the daughter of Charlotte and Doug Green, of Russellville.