HARLINGEN — A business idea that started with a mobile food truck has now evolved into so much more.
Kathy Ledezma, along with her husband Carlos Chavez and daughter Cailey, own and operate Roll With It Harlingen, a rolled ice cream business located at 520 N. Commerce St.
But it all started in 2018, when Ledezma said they would park their mobile food truck on the corner of Rangerville Road, and a convenience store would allow them to park there.
Ledezma works for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, and Chavez is a firefighter, which has their entrepreneurship venture only as part time for now.
“We would only open on the weekends and maybe three times a month, and we did that for almost two years,” Ledezma said.
“When we tried to renew, the city had passed an ordinance that they wanted manufactured food trucks and ours was a custom,” she said.
Chavez explained it was a refurbished 1967 travel trailer and the city was asking for trucks, which were specifically for food. Since Chavez and Ledezma had a converted trailer, they were not able to renew their license.
“We stopped, and it was still lingering. We really enjoy this, and it is a family affair. We looked around and our next option was a little shop,” Ledezma said.
“We wanted nothing big because we like it homey and cozy, and one day my daughter and I saw this and thought this is perfect,” she said.
The family opened their shop three weekends ago, but Roll With It Harlingen already had a great following, according to Ledezma. People continuously asked about them coming back, which is why they decided to open the new location.
“Our mix is homemade and is our own little secret. We have games, and it brings joy to our heart because we see families and young kids sitting here for hours. And they are mingling,” she said.
“Their phone is rarely picked up, and it is a positive vibe,” Ledezma said.
Their inspiration for rolling ice cream came from a trip the family made to Houston in 2018. They all visited the international district and experienced different kinds of Asian desserts. That’s where they were introduced to rolling fried ice cream.
“We did not have this in Harlingen yet, and I said let’s go for it,” she said.
“The beauty of it is, our machines can be manipulated, but he does it manually and uses a pedal in the back and is frying the ice cream manually. We wanted it to be more originally,” Ledezma said about Chavez’s rolling skills.
Their opening hours for the business are sporadic because of their full-time jobs. Cailey, who is still a full-time high school senior, works as a cashier when they are open.
“Out of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it is for sure two dates,” Ledezma explained when they typically open.
They notify their clients on their social media pages and via email when they are open, which is only three hours maximum.
“We have a lot of clients who appreciate we are back,” she said.
Chavez did not know how to use the machine before opening the business but taught himself through trial and error.
Their flavors include “Frontside Grind”, with a vanilla base, Folgers coffee and whipped cream, “Monkey See, Monkey Do”, which has bananas and Nutella, cinnamon stick, with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and many more.
All ice creams cost $5.
“They are all big sellers right now. Our ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ used to be, but I think [customers] were afraid of tasting all the others,” she said.
A different flavor is featured every time they open. Last weekend, a brownie was included with a chocolate base. About 90 cups of ice cream are sold every time they open.
Chavez is the only one rolling the ice cream, and even though he taught himself, from the fastness and skills, it is evident he sharpened his skills with time.
“I like when the kids are looking. They get a kick out of it, and they watch very intensely,” he said.
More than enjoying making a profit, Ledezma said they enjoy spending time together as a family with their business.
“This is a family hobby. This brings us together at the end of the week, even if it is just for three hours,” she said.
Ledezma stressed the importance of supporting local and small businesses, especially because of the economic hit taken from the pandemic.
Cailey said working with her parents has its pros and cons, but most of the time it is fun.
“I like that it is our little business and something we can say is our own,” she said.