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Meet Leonardo Romero of EL PARAISO

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leonardo Romero.

Hi Leonardo, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My father, Ramon Romero, started making paletas aka popsicles, in 1979, out of a small retail space in Huntington Park, CA. He named the business EL PARAISO, which translates to Paradise because he wanted his customers to feel like they were in ice cream heaven when they tasted his paletas. Ramon’s dream was to bring the tasty treats from his hometown of Jalpa, Zacatecas, Mexico to the people of Los Angeles. As demand quickly grew, he later moved production to a larger warehouse space in East LA, located at 515 N Mednik Ave, which is still in operation today. Here my family and staff would make paletas day and night, package them, and sell them directly to consumers mainly by way of Paleteros, aka street vendors. During this time, there would be up to 100 paleteros pushing our paleta carts throughout the city, stocked with a variety of fruit flavors, such as Strawberry, Coconut, Tamarind, Lemon, and Watermelon. In 1982, as the business continued to grow rapidly, Ramon opened a second store in South Central Los Angeles, with plans for a retail storefront located at 1760 E Florence Ave.

This is now our main headquarters/facility, where we manufacture, package, and distribute all our products. Here you can purchase our famous paletas in wholesale amounts, as well as enjoy some of our handmade ice creams. Over the years, our menu has expanded to not only ice cream but also Raspados, Fruit salads, Juices/smoothies, and more. EL PARAISO is more than just an ice cream shop, we are an essential part of the community. For over 40 years, we have been providing an escape from reality, a sense of normalcy, especially during these challenging times. As Angelenos, we all share a connection to the places and people that inspires us. We are frequently told stories by our loyal customers when they remember coming here as kids and now as adults, bringing their own families for ice cream. It’s such a special feeling of nostalgia, which my family and staff are very proud of. My father is currently retired, and I have been managing the business for the last seven years now. We have been able to thrive and survive so many years because my family and staff take great pride in making our products the authentic way so that our customers can truly experience a piece of paradise, EL PARAISO.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There have been many challenges. Due to COVID-19, our business has been impacted negatively by a 40% loss in revenue from the previous year. For example, many schools in the area purchase wholesale amounts of our paletas for student fundraisers. When it was announced there would be school closures statewide, we lost a huge portion of our income. As well as having to let go of staff, due to lack of work.

Also, earlier this year in April, we experienced a terrible accident when a car crashed into our storefront and destroyed most of our restaurant space, including equipment and products. We had to close the shop for almost two months, during the beginning of our busy season.

Nevertheless, we were able to overcome these obstacles and keep moving forward.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about EL PARAISO?
We are family owned and operated business, serving the communities of East LA and South Central LA since 1979. We are a wholesale ice cream manufacturer, commissary, distributor, and retail store, specializing in Paletas, Bolis, Raspados, and more.

Like I mentioned earlier, EL PARAISO is more than just an ice cream shop, we are an essential part of the community. We not only sell something that everyone loves and makes you happy, but also something that represents my culture and community. Which is the majority are Latinos. 

Not only do we make, package, and distribute our own products here in Los Angeles, but we also offer catering services for all types of events. For example, you can rent one of our paleta carts for your company party or book us to cater a wedding.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I enjoy watching the Food Network Channel, anything with food and business is always fun to learn about new ideas. I grew up listening to sports talk radio, so whenever I get a chance I’m listening to am570 for Dodgers games. Also, hearing Vin Scully broadcast the Dodgers games was a great inspiration for me. He always knew exactly what to say and told some of the best stories. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so two of my favorite things are ice cream and the Dodgers.

I love for news, music, and entertainment in LA. I used to have my own radio show in college and would find some of the best music that inspired me from their DJs.

I’m always looking for upcoming events in LA or its surrounding cities, so I can network and bring my tasty treats to new customers.

Big shout out to all our amazing customers, we wouldn’t be here without your loyal support all these years! We love you! <3

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