Snow cone business barely affected by COVID

LeeAnne and Leah Mata hold their order of multiple different flavors of raspa from root beer to natural mango Thursday at Marquez Snow Cones. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

HARLINGEN — At Marquez Snow Cones the grind almost never stopped.

Johana Reyes said the raspa stand closed for only a week when the shutdown occurred in March. Raspa stands are known to be a pickup service, which puts them at an advantage.

“Almost everything we sell here is to go. People keep coming, we haven’t had any problems. Our frequent clients have been coming for years,” Reyes said.

At Marquez, signs are posted against the small truck’s walls to advise customers to wear face masks when ordering. Reyes was also wearing one as well as gloves.

“Sometimes people don’t want to wear one but many people stay in their cars as they wait to order,” Reyes said.

For her, she has to wash her hands every so often. Reyes said business has stayed afloat, almost as if COVID-19 had not occurred.

Raspa stands are usually cash only establishments and Marquez Snow Cones was no different. According to a USA TODAY article, the country has been experiencing a coin shortage. Staff has decreased for the coin manufacturer and the results of the partial closure of the economy has added to the problem. However, Reyes affirms there has been no problems when asking for cash payments. Her tip jar was full and she said many clients continue to pay with coins and drop tips in her jar.

Marquez Snow Cones located at 1226 Morgan Blvd. across Pendleton Park, with another location at 1510 E. Monroe Ave.

At Papi’s Fruit Cups located in the parking lot of Henry’s Party Supply at 715 Lewis Lane, the situation is similar.

Megan Juarez, 21, said she has been working at the raspa stand for two years. The stand closed down only during Hurricane Hanna. Juarez said about 30 to 40 people attend every day, with Friday and Saturday being the busiest.

Maleni Reyes works at Tropical Snowiz by H-E-B on South Expressway 83. Reyes and Juarez accept only cash from customers as well. Both agreed customers have been steady. Juarez added at her work, she has noticed a small decrease in sales but nothing to worry about.

Sisters Leah Mata and Leeanne Mata arrived at Marquez Snow Cones to buy around five to eight raspas for their family members.

“I have been coming to this snow cone place since I was born. We used to actually live around the block and ride our bikes since I was 8 years old. I have been coming here my entire life,” Leah, 18, said.

“My favorite flavor is the natural mango,” Leah said, and 11-year-old Leeanne agreed.

Because several establishments are closed due to COVID-19, Leah added she comes more often to the raspa stand than before.

Leah said she goes at least five times a month.

“I have found I come more often since I take my sisters to play tennis across the street. I find I swing by here a lot more,” she said.