“Can I get a strawberry churro?”
“I want nachos!”
“Let me try conchas and cream shake, please.”
These are just a few of the orders that Monique Noriega and Melissa Mckinnis receive during the day at Iced Above -a new business with a variety of mixed Latino flavors that just opened at Union Station East.
The booth, which also features fun and colorful drinks, opened on April 29. Its opening is part of Metro’s efforts to bring new businesses and offer diversity to customers at Union Station, a transit hub that so far hosts 21 retail tenants.
“The response of the public has been very positive. Everybody is excited to have us because clients want to try something new and that is what is on our menu,” says Monique.
The Elot Noodz, a traditional cup of noodles topped with “esquite” —corn with mayo, cheese, and chili— and the Pickle Loko, a pickle with chamoy and chili are just two of a long list of gastronomic creations from these entrepreneurs. Both agree that customer favorites are the Float On, a cup filled with ‘aguas frescas’ topped with candy that comes with a floatie, the Street Corn, and the Mango Madness where this delicious fruit comes with chamoy and tajin.
Don’t worry, Dodgers fans, the girls haven’t forgotten about you. Those coming to Union Station to catch the bus directly to the game can stop by Iced Above to purchase their Dodger’s Stadium Bag. This item, which is another of their innovative ideas, is a clear backpack filled with everything you need for a baseball game: cups of michelada mix, chili candies, an assortment of snacks, and a cute baseball popcorn ball.
Monique, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, says that all the food and drink culture that she displays in her business was learned from her grandparents who are from Mexico.
“When I was little, my grandfather and I used to pack oranges in bags and offered them to our neighbors. I think that helped me [to have an idea of what the trade was] and it is reflected today in my contact with my clients.”
From pop-ups to Union Station
Their idea to venture into the food business started in 2017. “We started selling fruit popsicles, but we wanted to do something new and that’s how Michelada ‘paletas’ came up,” says Melissa. With their own creation of chili, tomato juice, lemon, salt, and pepper mix in the shape of a popsicle, they started to do several pop-up events in Southern California breweries.
“The events were on the weekends, and we went everywhere from Palmdale to San Diego. Then, we added chamoy candy to the popsicles. Everything was going great until COVID hit in March 2020.”
Businesses closed, people stopped meeting and that’s when Monique and Melissa decided to focus only on online sales. “To avoid losing momentum, we needed to come up with something bigger and so a new product was born: the Emergency Michelada Kit,” Melissa recalls. The box containing drink cups, drink sauce, chili gummies and Mexican snacks became so popular that the business began taking orders from all over the United States.
The idea was a success. It allowed them to recover in just six months and led the young entrepreneurs to open a store in Whittier in September 2020. “It’s a lounge juice bar with non-alcoholic drinks with a variety of sweets adorning the top,” Melissa explains. She adds that opening a business during the pandemic was scary, but it turned out very well. Social media posts about their creative drinks went viral and since then, they haven’t stopped with their sweeping success.
This women-owned business came to Union Station East only a little over a week ago and many people who stop to catch the bus or train stop to take a look at the place. “We want to provide some fun with our items and be a very welcoming space. Join us at Union Station’s fun new snack bar,” says Melissa.
As for Monique, who grew up in Los Angeles with Metro service and went to college by public transportation, says this opportunity is a blessing. “It’s also a full circle, I still take the Red Line (B) to go to games [at Dodger Stadium] … Now we’re here at Union Station and we feel right at home.”
The business is open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Categories: Transportation News