A mixture of sweet and sad: Las Delicias celebrates 4 years in Peoria

PEORIA - A local ice cream is celebrating four years in business, serving up unique flavors to Central Illinois. 

The Mendez family opened up Las Delicias Homemade Mexican Ice Cream and Popsicle shop on Main Street in 2013. It's a family operation, where everything is done together, but their journey is bittersweet.

Las Delicias was the dream of Ismael and Mary Mendez, but their story of success is a mixture of sweet and sad. Six months after opening their shop, Ismael died. His wife and their children kept the store going, turning their sadness into success.

"It was his dream to leave her something and he did this because he knew that he wanted her to be her own boss. He wanted her to go out in life and be someone with her kids, whether he was here or not," says Gabriela Mendez. 

In June 2016, tragedy hit the Mendez family once again. The owners 19-year-old son, Ismael, was diagnosed with Stage IV Squamous Cell Carcinoma. During his 7 month battle, family members split their time running the shop and visiting him at the hospital 5 hours away.

"It was really sad and it was really devastating to find out, you know, the love of your life that you did so much for and you were there the whole entire time and he's gone in seconds. . . It took a real big toll on us with the shop because we left the shop alone," adds Mendez. 

Once again, the family found comfort in the shop, sharing ice cream with others and helping them find a reason to smile. 

"Our hearts are broken on the inside, but the shop has really helped us not just be in the house sitting and thinking what we lost. We can feel him here, his spirit, we know he's watching over us." 

As the Mendez family celebrates four years in business, they look forward to carrying on this tradition for years to come. 

"I hope there's a lot of great business. I hope that we grow with our flavors, we grow with our clients, we get out and get to know Peoria more." 

There will be a party Saturday to celebrate four years of business. It's from 4:00-7:00 P.M. at Las Delicias, which is located at 837 W. Main St. in Peoria. There will be free balloons, face painting, and the Easter Bunny.

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