JEFFERSON PARK — The owners of a beloved Jefferson Park paleteria are closing the business — but hope someone is willing to take over.
El Sabor la Michoacanita, 4442 N. Milwaukee Ave., is closing Sunday after about two years in business. It’s a favorite for families and people who want fresh fruit, a smoothie or an ice cream snack. It also sells popular Mexican savory items like homemade tamales, tortas and elotes.
Owners Ana Romero and Jorge Gonzales, a couple from Mexico, made the difficult decision to leave Chicago to open another paleteria with her brother, she said. That business will align more with Romero’s dreams, she said.
“We have a new opportunity … so it’s necessary to close the paleteria,” Romero said in Spanish.
The owners are looking for someone who wants to take over the Jefferson Park spot or open another ice cream shop in the space. Romero is willing to sell the business and equipment and hand over recipes to anyone who wants it, provided they invest in the community and keep the spirit of the shop alive. She will offer two weeks of training.
Interested people should contact her brother, Jose Romero, at 773-875-0050. He co-owns the business but is too busy with his other restaurant nearby — El Asadero Colombiano, 4800 N. Central Ave. — to manage the paleteria, Ana Romero said.
“It will be sad to see it closed … but I have faith that someone will be interested [or] it will be something else,” she said.
Closing the ice cream shop brings her many emotions and is bittersweet, she said — but ultimately, Ana Romero hopes it will be the right decision for her business and her family.
“It’s very special and I care about” the shop, she said. “It’s difficult, but I am grateful for the experience I had here. I learned a lot. Every day I learned something new. … What was motivating me was doing new things, creating new ice cream … and menu items.”
The staff was robbed at gunpoint in October 2020, and the owners were hospitalized after getting pistol-whipped. That almost closed the shop, but neighboring business owner Alina Kruk-Velazquez launched an online fundraiser that collected thousands to help Romero and her husband get back on their feet.
“The support has been incredible,” Romero said. “I want to thank everyone in the community.”
Kruk-Velazquez, who owns ABC Dance Academy at 4444 N. Milwaukee Ave., said she will miss El Sabor la Michoacanita and the owners. The two became close, and Kruk-Velazquez would help out with the business at times and watch the family’s dog when they went on vacation.
“Ana is such a hardworking and powerful business owner,” Kruk-Velazquez said.
Romero invites people to stop by and say goodbye. The shop will have special discounts on popular items, and she plans to roll out new ice cream flavors.
The family is looking forward to a fresh start in a place that hopefully will bring in more business and expand their skills, and they want to leave behind the trauma from the robbery. Gonzales is still recovering.
“I want to say thank you for always visiting the shop and for supporting us through difficult times,” Romero said. “We felt important to the community. We aren’t going because the store is doing poorly or because of the pandemic. … We are going for another opportunity, and we want to take the experience we have had here and implement it in another place.”
El Sabor la Michoacanita is open noon-8 p.m. every day until Sunday.
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