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San Antonio man loses job, starts new family business

Sunday afternoon marked opening day for the family’s dessert food truck

SAN ANTONIO – Sunday marked day one for the Cabrales family’s new chapter — a shaved ice business to fight back against the impact of COVID-19.

Days after the shutdown began in mid-March due to the growing concerns surrounding the pandemic, Ismael Cabrales said he received a call from his supervisor.

“He said, ‘Hey, your name came up, and you and several others, today is going to be the last day that you guys are (employed) with us,” Ismael said.

Ismael said he had kept the same job for nine years. Although filled with uncertainty, Cabrales accepted his fate.

“In a way, it’s a sigh of relief,” Ismael said.

The company’s decision allowed him to spend more time with his wife Joana and their five children and to think about their future, Ismael said.

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“My mind started wondering what our next step (would be),” Ismael said. “Necessity drives creativity (and) if your back is against the wall, you have to be creative with what you do. So, we just started dreaming and this came up.”

Until the Cabrela’s find a permanent spot to work from, they’ll announce pop-up locations and hours on their Instagram.
Until the Cabrela’s find a permanent spot to work from, they’ll announce pop-up locations and hours on their Instagram. (Cristian Ortiz-Salas)

Joanna and Ismael said after some brainstorming that they had the resources to venture into the food business and create Lina’s Treats and Cafe, a small traveling food truck that serves shaved ice.

“I don’t think you’ll find anything like us. We want to be different. Most of the products that we sell are natural. We want to stay biodegradable. We want to stay environmentally friendly,” Ismael said.

Sunday afternoon at the parking lot of Broadway Loft near The Pearl, marked the business’ first day open to the public, just in time to help keep locals cool in triple-digit heat.

Their menu offers a variety of options including sweet flavors like Berry Fun or The Hawaiian with pineapple and coconut, refreshing flavors like El Mojito with mint and lime and bold options like Cold Brew that features a locally roasted coffee from Solid State Coffee Co topped with vanilla ice cream.

The couple's children help make the strawberry drizzle that tops the Berry Fun shaved ice option.
The couple's children help make the strawberry drizzle that tops the Berry Fun shaved ice option. (Ismael Cabrales)

Joana said the family jumped in to help with the new venture.

“I have four daughters and one son,” Joana said. “When they heard that we were going to start this business, they were all in just because they like helping in the kitchen. So, like the strawberry drizzle that we use, they actually help me cook it. They’ll cut up the strawberries and actually cook it and make the drizzle.”

Customers can also find frozen-favorites like mangonadas or fresadas, a delicious mango or strawberry-flavored shaved ice as well as traditional paletas.

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The Cabrales family is eager for the San Antonio community to try their cool treats. Each purchase, they said, helps support their dreams as well as their goal to keep their family afloat during the pandemic.

The family hopes to find a permanent spot near downtown to work from on weekends. Businesses interested in renting out an area for the food truck can contact the family at linastreatsandcafe@gmail.com.

For Lina’s Treats and Cafe’s hours and current location, click here.


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