Esther Gonzales dreamed of opening an ice cream shop ever since she was a child when she played in the plaza in downtown Watsonville, making mudballs out of the dirt and pretending to sell them, using the arm of a tree as a counter. Then, in 1995 Mrs. Gonzales opened Conchita’s Ice Cream Parlor in Plaza Vigil, making that childhood dream come true. Mrs. Gonzales used the nickname that her family and friends had given her as a little girl: Conchita, translated Shell in English. Chonchita’s Ice Cream Parlor sells a little bit of everything: snacks, sodas, potato chips, candy bars, banana splits, sundaes. “Everybody likes milkshakes,” Mrs. Gonzales said, “on Sundays, everyone buys banana splits.”
Mrs. Gonzales first heard of the opportunity to open a business in Plaza Vigil through Raymond Vigil, after whom the Plaza is named. Mr. Vigil told Mrs. Gonzales and her husband that there was an opportunity to become trained in starting a business by the El Pájaro CDC along with the opportunity to open a business in Plaza Vigil. “I didn’t think about it twice,” Mrs. Gonzales reminisced, “I said: Where do I sign up?” Mrs. Gonzales attended all the business meetings, paid for her application, made all the necessary arrangements of starting a business, and when the time came she opened Conchita’s Ice Cream Parlor in Plaza Vigil. “You’re imagination goes as far as you want it to go,” Mrs. Gonzales said. She imagined running an ice cream shop as a child, and now it has become a reality.
Mrs. Gonzales calls Watsonville her “home, sweet, home.” She has lived in California since she was six years old and grew up right around the corner from where her business now stands. She loves Watsonville and wants to see businesses and the economy thrive. Sometimes Mrs. Gonzales looks outside her business window at the tree that she played around as a child and she is happy. “Watsonville is the perfect place to raise a child,” Mrs. Gonzales emphasizes. She raised four children herself in Watsonville, all of whom obtained an education through her encouragement and advice.
Mrs. Gonzales has numerous ideas for the future of her business. She plans on remodeling the shop, painting the walls the colors of her ice cream. She has been inspired by the recent business training workshop that El Pájaro CDC offered called NX Level. “The business training shows what’s ahead for a business. It opened up many doors in my head and made me think of how to make changes and think about the future.”
Conchita’s Ice Cream @ Plaza Vigil, 15 E. Beach Street Watsonville