Robert Gonzales used his food truck expertise to open an ice cream van. So far, Gonzales has primarily operated at events, but plans to begin driving a route through town.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

 

Owner of the beloved Breakfast Burritos N’ More, Robert Gonzales is no food truck novice. But he’s trying his hand at a childhood classic: the ice cream truck.

Gonzales had to shut down his burrito food truck during the pandemic. Instead of getting up at five in the morning to turn on the grills and start prepping burrito ingredients, Gonzales spent months homeschooling his kids. The father of six helped educate his three youngest children: a high school freshman, a first grader and a third grader.

Even as he was helping with homework, Gonzales had grand plans. He was watching YouTube videos on ice cream truck builds and looking for vans.

“It actually fell into my lap. I couldn’t find one. They were out of town, out of my price range, this and that. I stopped looking and all of a sudden my wife calls me. She says, ‘hey so and so’s selling a van. Look at it and see if we can use it.’”

An ice cream truck is simpler to run than a food truck. With the food truck, Gonzales rose early to chop lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and after an event he had to make sure his stove was shut off and everything was cooled down.

“This ice cream truck, I come home from an event, I just plug it in,” he said.

With a simpler set up, Gonzales has made his food selection vast. He offers 42 different frozen treats, from fruit bars to SpongeBob SquarePants popsicles.

“For the kids, the biggest seller is SpongeBob. I can’t keep him in stock. Yesterday when I went for ice cream, I bought four cases for SpongeBob and I get another shipment in tomorrow.”

Gonzales thinks an online video trend where people try to find the perfect SpongeBob is driving sales.

“It’s so hilarious. They open it. They see if the eyes are perfect. They see the eyes are crooked and oh, the kids, they all laugh.”

Vanilla ice cream sandwiches and the King Cone, a classic ice cream Sunday cone, are the hot ticket items with grownups. If customers aren’t in the mood for ice cream, Gonzales also has candy, cotton candy and pickles.

Gonzales tries to keep his prices low.

“The people in Albuquerque, say ‘Oh you should be at this price, that’s what everybody sells it for.’ I say, ‘Well you know, I don’t see a family of four or five coming to pay that for an ice cream.’ It gets quite expensive.”

The response from customers, especially kids, has been enthusiastic.

“I was coming down from the Rodeo Complex and the fair and there were three kids on bicycles that just chased me down the railroad tracks on Park Street. They see me, they say ‘Hey!’ They were coming just as fast as they could. I see them and of course, I pulled over. I didn’t sell them any—I gave them ice cream, and they were just so happy. They were like ‘Oh man, an ice cream truck’s finally in town.’”

But breakfast burrito fans don’t need to fret. Gonzales plans to bring back his food truck early next year.