LocoPops is the product of desperation, perspiration, getting lost and finding home. In 2004, I was working in software development in Nashville, TN, and slowly going crazy. Nothing against Corporate America but it really was a case of square peg vs. round hole and I couldn’t seem to shave enough corners off of myself to fit.
One weekend, when a friend came to visit and commiserate with my lack of direction, we visited Las Paletas (owned by the fabulous Paz sisters, Irma and Norma – long may they rule!) on what happened to be the first pretty Saturday that spring. We sat on the curb and enjoyed our pops and I relaxed for the first time in months. My friend said, jokingly, ‘Well, if you’re looking for a new gig, I’ll bet you can learn to make these.”
It was one of several such moments where the right thing got asked or said at the exact time I happened to be really listening. So that was a Saturday. On Monday, I went into work and gave notice. Then I spent two months trying to find someone in Mexico to teach me the art and craftsmanship I would need to make truly great pops. And I ended up apprenticing with a lovely woman in Tlazazalca, a town in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacán.
After completing my training in Mexico, the question became where to open. I didn’t want to compete with the ladies Paz – I was trying to follow in their footsteps! So while traveling and checking out options, I got lost on the way from Atlanta to NJ and ended up having to stop for gas in Durham. And I fell in love with this place: its great bones and its great folks. So, without knowing anyone here, I decided to try it. It seemed like home, right from the start.
Over the years, I’ve had a business partner, Connie Semans, who helped grow the business from its fledgling status onto stronger footing. I’ve also had two amazing kitchen managers (Leila Wolfrum and Tracy Stevens), each of whom have contributed in their own way to the business’ success and longevity. I’m so grateful to all of them.
And grateful to you all, our customers, the reason we keep on going. Without your support, none of this would’ve been mattered.
Oh, and the name! It comes from another just-right question: “What’d your parents think when you quit your job, sold your house, took your dogs and went to Mexico to learn how to make pops? My answer was: “They’d thought I’d lost my mind. They thought I’d gone loco!” Sometimes, the answer really is just right there waiting for you!
So, in 2014, we’re focusing on one storefront, expanding our mobile business, supporting our area merchants who carry LocoPops, catching some Bulls games and making fun, new flavors as well as all your faves. Come share the Loco!