PILOT MOUNTAIN — The newest place in Pilot Mountain to find frozen treats is Peña’s Tropiloco Ice Cream Shop. Created by Laura Peña, the name refers to the way the crazy weather affects food cravings.
Of Mexican decent, Peña has lived in the Pilot Mountain area for 15 years. “I really appreciate the people of Pilot welcoming me; this is my home,” Peña said.
Before opening the store the single mother traveled around the country working to cleanse oil spills, she explained. Since becoming ill during a trip five years ago, Peña has undergone surgery to remove one kidney.
Her health and the desire to be with her children convinced Peña that she needed a new career. “I pray to my God, please give me a job,” Peña said. She also saw a need for the young people in the community to have a place to go. The family-operated ice cream store was the answer to her prayers.
The homemade ice cream is quite a treat, but Peña goes a step further by creating a variety of frozen concoctions. Using the freshest ingredients, Peña makes sundaes, smoothies and slushies. The shop features several superhero-inspired creations, such as the Avenger Split and the Angry Hulk (made with lemon and chili powder). In addition, the shop specializes in uniquely Mexican treats.
Common treats are given a Mexican twist, such as a tamarindo milkshake. Bampirocho, made with vegetable juice and chili, is traditionally consumed to help beat the heat. The classic churro is also on the menu.
“It’s good to try new things,” said Peña, explaining that the Mexican flavors often have a sour-sweet combination.
A few savory items are also available, including a Mexican salad, pepicoso (a spicy, stuffed cucumber), and a nacho-type dish using hot Cheetos in place of tortilla chips.
“It is most important for me that the people here like it,” Peña said. She is happy to make special orders that are not on the menu. One customer creation, now called Mimi’s Fresa, has made its way onto the regular menu.
Knowing that the crazy weather will not be hot all year, Peña has plans to add warm foods in the fall. Tacos, buñuelos (a sweet fried dough), and champurrado (a warm, thick chocolate drink) are expected additions.
With the goal of being a place for children in the community, Peña is happy to host birthday parties, and other small events. The shop has a small play area for children, complete with a mini kitchen. Free wifi is also available.
“All of my life is a miracle,” Peña said, sharing how she wants to give back to the community that has welcomed her.
Peña’s Tropiloco Ice Cream shop is located at 101 Shoals Road. With assistance from her sons, the shop is open from noon to 10 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when the business is closed. Updates can be found on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/penas.tropiloco or by calling 336-755-7755.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.