I get emails weekly about opening a business in San Pedro. They always start “we visited Ambergris Caye and fell in love…can you think of any businesses that the island needs”? And I am left stumped…sure I can think of things that I would love to have (or eat) but would they be successful on a small island where the tourism economy is seasonal?
26 year old Regina Sansores, born and raised on Ambergris Caye and mother of two, came up with a fantastic idea (with the help of her husband) and is putting her heart, soul and time into it.
Her home refrigerator and freezer have only paletas and paleta ingredients in them. Really.
In just about a year, she has grown her unique business, Las Paletas by Regina, into a mini empire. And as another female, a business person, someone who lives across the street from Regina, lover of this island and all things delicious, I could not be prouder.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have noticed that I am slightly obsessed. Paletas pics are the new selfies.
Gorgeous lime from the San Pedrano Store on Front Street.
Pineapple from La Divinia Providencia Store in Escalante/DFC.
This week I visited Regina and her factory. It really is right across the street from me – south of town. It is a proper factory – not a shop. She sells her paletas at (from south to north) La Divinia Providencia Store, Mermaid Supermarket, San Pedrano Store and Market Basket at Grand Caribe. She is also doing special flavors for Rojo Lounge who, in turn, are doing very special things with her paletas.
I’ll back up for just one moment if you are not familiar with paletas. They are not merely popsicles but fresh fruit (Juice and chunk) and sometimes cream frozen on a stick. They are absolutely fantastically delicious and certain flavors appear during the year – like now you can eat MANGO! – when the fruits are in season. They are extremely popular throughout Mexico and Central America.
I walked across to Regina’s spot for a sneak look inside. She came up with the idea, did research in Mexico on machinery and recipes and then took out a loan from the bank. She is now selling hundreds and hundreds of paletas a week. Available at all stores for $2bzd each.
The factory is between her home and her husband’s furniture wood shop.
I stepped inside and was surprised…I had no idea that there was a major piece of machinery involved. One that is filled with salt water (it freezes at a low temperature – about 28 degrees) to more quickly freeze the pops. If you were working with your home freezer, and you certainly can, it takes 6 to 8 hours. Longer depending on the flavor.
Gorgeous gorgeous trays of peanut butter paletas…chunky PB.
Fresh coconut had been blended and was up next.
A factory needs a serious mixer. This is more like a power tool!
Almost everything, other than the freezing, is done manually. And even with AC, you must move QUICKLY.
And QUICK – into the freezer. Which is a thing of absolutely beauty. Sigh…
Here’s another fun thing…Regina and Rojo Lounge are experimenting with different flavors for special sangrias and mimosas that they are doing up there. Regina made a pineapple cilantro that I LOVED.
I tried the ONLY available at Rojo coconut cinnamon at home…now one of my favorites.
Plum thyme is delicious and they have more…SUPER fun idea.
And absolutely gorgeous.
So…now that Regina and her helper are producing every other day and then delivering on the other days – what does she see next in her paleta empire? Her cool pop conglomerate?
Her mom’s family owns the San Pedrano Store (and upstairs hotel) on Front Street in downtown San Pedro. She actually grew up in the hotel. She would LOVE to open her own gourmet shop and promised she wouldn’t murder me if I started sending her flavor ideas…puckery tamarind, cilantro and grapefruit, strawberry and mint, GINGER LIME…oh my!
You could do green smoothies with chaya and honey and banana and charge more for them. Refreshing and crazy healthy.
Just google “paleta recipes” – these things are HOT.
She hopes to get her own space to try new flavors and sell fresh juices…she even has this funky machine to seal your juices on top.
All I can say is GO REGINA! You are rocking it…and making my San Pedro a much better place (ESPECIALLY on these hot days). I can’t wait to see (and taste) what you come out with next.
You can check for info and updates on her new Facebook page.