At 16, Eliza Garza’s father ignited the raspa flame within her.
Her dad saw that South Padre Island needed a raspa stand. He believed his family could run it every summer. Garza carried that flame with her as she finished high school and worked as an event planner, fundraiser, energy broker and idea generator.
Last year, a friend of Garza’s took charge of the Beach Resort at South Padre Island and she had a question.
“Where are you going to have snow cones?”
Garza’s friend told her she could make it happen. Garza set a launch date: March 15, 2020. By now, that flame had accelerated into a full-fledged fire. Then came COVID-19. Garza watched as local officials shut the Island down before opening day.
She refused to give up. Garza opened Beachside Snow Cones on the Memorial Day 2020 weekend with the help of her mother and stepdad. Her seasonal raspa stand was a big hit. Watching Garza from afar was Margret DeBruyn, a friend and the founder and owner of CRYO Body Perfections in McAllen.
“She would tell me, ‘I really admire your hustle, driving back and forth from McAllen daily,”’ Garza said of DeBruyn. “She saw the business side of me.”
Garza suffered another blow in June 2020. Doctors diagnosed her stepdad, Robert Contreras, with advanced bone cancer. He passed away two months later. Before he passed, Garza asked for a blessing.
“He prayed over me with some of the last energy he could muster to speak the blessing aloud and into existence,” Garza said. “He declared God’s favor over me and a lifetime of abundance that would transform me.”
As Garza tells it, “Three months later, the floodgates of heaven opened up for me. After a grueling year of pain and sorrow, there was finally light, so much light.”
In November 2020, Garza teamed up with DeBruyn to purchase ICED CUBE Shaved Ice in Edinburg.
“Then it literally – pun intended – snowballed into something I could never have imagined,” DeBruyn said.
Seizing On Opportunities
They reopened the Edinburg location in December. They next purchased the Mission location and opened one in McAllen. ICED CUBE is not your average raspa/snow-cone stand. In Edinburg, there is a “back yard” with tables where customers can enjoy their creations. The McAllen and Mission locations will soon have dine-in areas. The menu also makes ICED CUBE unique.
“Our raspas are creations, works of art,” Garza said, with her business partner, DeBruyn adding, “sweet, sour and spicy.”
It’s happiness through food, they said. Their menu mirrors the Rio Grande Valley culture, Garza said.
“It’s colorful, rich, vibrant, alegres!” she said, adding that final word which is part of everything they do, which is happiness.
Take the Monster Dilly Raspa. Customers start with the snow-cone flavor of their choice. Then pickles, salsagheti, sour worms, fresh strawberries, gummy bears, chili powder, Kool-Aid powder and chamoy are added. Customers can also try the ICED CUBE Double Mango. This selection starts with the snow-cone flavor of their choice. Pickles, salsagettis, sour worms, sour rolls, gummy bears and fresh mango are added. The entire concoction is covered with chili powder, Kool-Aid powder and chamoy.
There are also what DeBruyn called “Junkyard Treats,” which include Chip Bag Preparado, Crazy Corn Nuts and Frito Pie. ICED CUBE also serves up a delicious Picadilly Split and Hot Cheeto Elote.
ICED CUBE offers sugar-free raspas for those conscious of their sugar and carbohydrate intake. Current flavors include blue coconut, grape, chamoy, strawberry, mango and cherry. The 16-ounce, sugar-free raspa has eight calories and just 4.44 carbs.
ICED CUBE’s “Cantina” offers tasty treats with alcohol, including Alcohol-Infused Raspas, Micheladas, Beer-Ritas and Jello-O-Shots.
Expanding A Brand
The business partners have applied for an ICED CUBE trademark. The name, originally ICED CUBE Shaved Ice, has changed to ICED CUBE Mexican Street Eats. They want to expand the brand beyond the Valley. Garza and DeBruyn have embarked on the franchising process. A franchise-consultant group on the East Coast has played a crucial role in the ICED CUBE franchise being launched this month.
Garza and DeBruyn realized the importance of taste consistency as they go into franchising. Much of their business depends on their “ice.” What many call “Italian ice” has been renamed at ICED CUBE. They have hired a chef from Mexico to create their original recipes for “Mexican ice,” which they will be producing themselves.
It is much more than their Mexican ice, their raspa art and the Mexican street eats Garza and DeBruyn want to share.
“Margret told me, ‘People are going to realize what the Valley is,'” Garza said. “We are proudly sharing a piece of our South Texas culture with the nation. We want to show people there is a passion, a fire, an entrepreneurial spirit here.”