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Zelaya Family, Hollyhock residents

02 June . 2020

For the Zelaya family, Hollyhock was “meant to be”

When the Zelaya family decided to relocate from Maryland to Dallas, Hollyhock was the first community they looked at. And the one they set their heart on.

“We immediately fell in love with Hollyhock,” recalls Maria Zelaya, who had just accepted a new position as a management analyst with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Dallas. “We saw so many kids out playing. It felt like a very family-friendly community. The schools were also hugely important for us.”

On their first visit, however, the Zelayas couldn’t find a new home at Hollyhock that met their needs exactly, so they decided to purchase a home in another Frisco community.

But a funny thing happened on the way to sign the contract on that home.

“We drove by Hollyhock again on the way to the other community, and we noticed a new sign announcing a new builder in Hollyhock. We decided to turn in and check it out,” Maria says. “When we went into the model home, it just felt right, and that’s how we came to live in this wonderful community. It just goes to show, if something is meant to be, it will be.”

The only thing left was to figure out a way for Carlos to transfer his 27 years of culinary talents to Texas. In Maryland, he was an accomplished chef and owner of a thriving catering business.

Joining with Maria’s brother and sister-in-law, who had already been living in Frisco for years, they launched La Gran Empanada, specializing in sweet and savory Latin turnovers. Available in seven varieties, including beef, chicken and dulce de leche, the empanadas are based on a recipe handed down from Maria’s mother and perfected by Chef Carlos, who includes his secret-recipe green sauce with every order.

“We take pride in using only the finest ingredients for our empanadas. We didn’t know if people were going to accept our empanadas were, but the response has been fantastic,” Maria says.

After securing a nearby commercial kitchen, they began selling empanadas at venues such as the Frisco Fresh Market, and rave reviews started rolling in. Then everything shut down with the coronavirus pandemic.

The business quickly adapted, moving to contactless local delivery for empanadas by the dozen. Delivery is offered seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., for Frisco, Aubrey, Savannah, Little Elm and Prosper.

The Zelayas look forward to expanding their full-service catering business once the economy opens up more, but for now they love sharing their empanadas. And living at Hollyhock.

“When we see our three sons enjoying our home and the community so much, we know we made the right choice,” Maria says.

To order from La Gran Empanada, visit their Facebook page or call 940-882-1113.