La Michoacana brings Mexican tradition to Richmond

La Michoacana is an ice cream shop decorated with  bright, pastel walls  and even brighter and vibrant array of products of homemade ice cream and popsicles, or “paletas.”

Andres Morales started La Michoacana in the summer of 2010.  Lucy Avila, a friend of Morales, said the shop’s name is very well known in Mexico and helps bring in business.

“In Mexico there are many places with the same name where they sell ice cream,” Avila said. “So the name grabs people’s attention.” Statements from all parties were translated from Spanish.

Morales said he spent about four years learning how to make ice cream with some of his family members in Mexico.

Photo by Erin Edgerton

“From there, I kept learning in order to start my own business,” Morales said.

Employee, Claudio Cortez, explained that many paletas contain whole fruit mingling with the milk base which is the first step in creating most of their products. The chopping of ingredients, mainly fruit, can be heard upon opening the door.

Cortez has worked at La Michoacana since the start, he said.

“Within a month, month-and-a-half, the space was finished and I started to make ice cream and paletas on that same day,” Cortez said.

After the mixtures are prepared, Cortez says the paletas are frozen in molds and are ready within 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream is frozen in a two-gallon container for around the same amount of time.

However, none of the products spend much time in the cold.

“Everything you see here, the fresh ice cream, isn’t more than three or four days old,” Avila said. “It’s fresh, they don’t take it out of some freezer where it’s been for days that came from some other place.”

Avila said one of the things that makes La Michoacana stand out is the variety of flavors, which include gummy bear, kahlua, tequila and mamey, which is a type of fruit.

“My favorite flavor is the cheese. It’s different because I can put a little bit of chocolate on top and it’s a little bit salty. It’s delicious,” Avila said.

Morales said if he sees an interesting ingredient, they try to think of ways to work it into an ice cream flavor.

“We do taste-tests, if they like them, we make them available to the public and if they keep buying, keep selling well, we continue,” Morales said.

Customers can see their ice cream being prepared through a glass window, where toppings like sprinkles, nuts and wafer cookies are added to banana splits and “Tres Marías,” which are sundaes containing three scoops of ice cream.

To Avila, La Michoacana serves more to its customers than just frozen desserts.

“Being that people have liked it so much, they come here and use it as a place to spend time with family,” Avila said. According to her, many come to La Michoacana to chat and eat ice cream, even in the winter months.

“We work hard to have better relationships with the customers and better service more than anything else,” Morales said.

Cortez said a new location opened in September of last year, technically up the road from the first.

“It’s located up there in Woodbridge in Prince William on (U.S.) Route 1, the same as the one here,” Cortez said. “They’re the same flavors and everything.”

The Richmond La Michoacana is located at 9110 Jefferson Davis Hwy in North Chesterfield and the other can be found at 14420 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge.  

Morales said he found the building for the new location just over a year ago.

“I wanted to open one four years ago up there, but I didn’t see a place there. The places are very expensive to rent,” Morales said.”

Morales said he chose Woodbridge as the location because there are many Latinos in the area. In the future, Morales says he hopes to grow La Michoacana further.
“My plans for La Michoacana are that I hope, if God allows, to open more stores. I don’t know how many more, but yes, I want to open more,” Morales said.

Georgia Geen,

Staff Writer

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