Brittany Gonsalves was looking to get her creative juices flowing last year after the pandemic halted her business operations.
"I was trying to find something to keep occupied, be creative, and have an outlet to stay hopeful and keep going," she said.
She and her husband, Rigoberto Guzman, started the Central Coast Tacos Catering Company in 2018. Aside from providing customers with savory carne asada or soyrizo tacos, the pair also offers bartending, busing, setup, and cleanup services—an added bonus that Gonsalves said not many small catering companies provide.
- Photo Courtesy Of Stefanie Elizabeth Photography
- POPSICLE FUN (Left to right) Nolan Spears and Sophia Guzman enjoy a cold treat on top of the Paleta & Co. ice cream cart.
The venture, which she now solely owns, was the career change that Gonsalves was looking for after giving birth to her second child in 2018. At the time, she worked for the San Luis Obispo County Public Defender's Office and was simultaneously trying to balance her home life. A mix of the high cost of child care, a full-time workload, and the duties of caring for an infant were enough for Gonsalves to reconsider her career choice.
With her new business on hold two years later, she searched for a passion project, and she found it in a junkyard. Gonsalves stumbled upon an old ice cream pushcart that needed a lot of care but was full of potential—just the project she was looking for.
She describes the cart as a vintage 1980s retrofitted ice cream pushcart that reminded her of the paletero man, or a street vendor of paletas and helados (which translate to popsicles and ice cream), visiting neighborhoods or setting up on street corners in the city of Santa Maria.
Nostalgia and the potential for turning the pushcart into a business moved Gonsalves to put life back into it. The cart came with all of the bells and whistles—it just needed a tune-up, which Gonsalves said became a family effort.
"We had to replace everything, from the wheels and really everything. It was pretty much an Igloo box on wheels," she said.
Once they revived the cart, Gonsalves decided to create a second arm of her catering business that included popsicles and ice cream. She called it Paleta & Co. and slapped a bright pink neon sign on the side of the pushcart.
The cart made its debut alongside those tacos in March of this year at Hammer Sky Vineyards in Paso Robles. Ever since their March return, Gonsalves has also provided her savory and sweet services once a month at There Does Not Exist brewery in San Luis Obispo.
Wherever the cart goes, she said, people's responses are positive.
"It's so much fun to take it to events, parties, weddings. You know, everyone enjoys ice cream, so it's just a nice special treat to add to a party," she said.
This is a unique time to launch the Paleta & Co. because people are ready to gather with their families, attend events, and visit pop-up vendors at their favorite brewery.
"We're getting like 22 phone calls a day from people asking us to cater. Unfortunately we don't have the availability, we're booked all the way up to October, but it's great because we can refer them to someone else," she said.
Gonsalves said she's grateful and ready to bring tacos and paletas to Santa Maria and SLO County cities alike.
• SLO Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF) opened a landlord-tenant clinic this year that provides free help to low-income or senior landlords and tenants who are navigating the eviction process without an attorney. The clinic coordinator is bilingual (English and Spanish) and can help eligible participants file and respond to unlawful detainer (eviction) complaints, prepare notices, proof of service, and all other court forms and filings related to evictions—including getting security deposits back. Interpreter services will be provided for other languages. The clinics will be temporarily held by appointment at the SLOLAF office, 3232 S. Higuera St., suite 101D, San Luis Obispo, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call to make an appointment at (805) 548-0797.
• Dignity Health partnered with Vitalant to host 12 successful blood drives at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center. Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals announced that the blood drives garnered enough blood to save up to 1,485 lives. The partnership was a proactive effort to encourage community members to donate blood to bolster the critical blood shortage. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to email@example.com.