When Paulina Hernandez was a young child, her father’s pop shop “La Playa” (The Beach) was rich with the smell of freshly peeled limes and the sounds of chatter between her dad and customers. Those same smells and sounds live in Paulina’s own pop shop, La Ola (The Wave) Pop, here in Kyle.
Owning a pop shop or paleteria is a deep-rooted family business. Paulina is a third-generation pop shop owner along with her brother and 12 cousins.
“My dad would always say, ‘It’s a humble line of work,’” she said. “We grew up seeing the friendly interactions, people smiling as they leave and it’s all we know.”
A business that has survived through generations was tested at the beginning of this year when Paulina and her husband Julian decided to change locations from downtown Kyle to the west side of Kyle. The Hernandez family opened their new location just as the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and social distancing was enforced.
Fortunately, the city of Kyle has a strong relationship with La Ola Pop. Customers know Paulina and Julian by name, even their social four-year-old son Erin. The repertoire inside La Ola is nothing short of friendly neighbor
chatter. Something you can’t find inside a Baskin Robbins.
“Seeing people smile or take happy pictures with their popsicle, that’s why I do this. It means a lot to make people happy. It’s a lot of hard work, but their smiles make it worth it,” Paulina said.
Each popsicle is made from scratch through a labor of love process. All the fruit based pops require washing, peeling cutting of hundreds of fruits before making the pops. Paulina said she can make at least a 100 pops in an hour, with help.
The labor of love is well reflected in every sweet bite, which has kept people coming back for the last three years. Regardless of customer loyalty or returning friends, it’s a tough time for mom and pop shops like La Ola Pop.
“For a lot of us, this is all we got. Passion has no plan B. If this doesn’t work out, we have no bailout plan and we will be forced to make hard decisions,” Julian said.
The Hernandez family is fortunate to have steered clear of hard decisions. They continue to stay busy offering popsicles through curbside pick-up, which is less interaction than they or their customers are used to.