Subscribe now for as low as $4

A popsicle by any other name: Paleta Bar opens soon

Married couple John Ortiz and Veronica Carbajal-Ortiz stand in front of the new Paleta Bar they plan to open next month.
(Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A healthy fruit-and-cream-based treat that hails predominantly from Mexico will soon be available to the residents of Rio Rancho.

The Paleta Bar dessert chain, which will soon open its newest location at 2003 Southern Blvd., was made possible with the vision of co-franchisee Veronica Carbajal-Ortiz.

“I grew up with paletas as a kid in Mexico; we didn’t have popsicles, really,” Carbajal-Ortiz said.

There is a difference, she said, between a paleta and a traditional American popsicle.

For one, a paleta is made without pumping air into the cream, and while it is being processed, fresh fruit is added, which makes this sweet treat a healthier choice.

“After the different-flavored paletas are made, another tradition is to dip them in chocolate and then roll them in different dry toppings,” she said.

Dry toppings include a sweet chili powder, almonds and M&Ms, just to name a few.

Carbajal-Ortiz said other Mexican markets already have this type of treat, also called escamoles, but the customer doesn’t get to pick what goes on it in each section.

“Here we allow the customer to pick whatever flavors they want from beginning to end…there are so many possibilities,” she said. “Also, if people want us to make a flavor for them, we can; we just need to place the order in advance.”

The Paleta Bar will also have elotes, corn covered in mayonnaise and chili powder, as well as aguas frescas, flavored waters that include blueberry limeade, watermelon and cucumber lime.

Carbajal-Ortiz, along with her husband, John Ortiz, put this business plan into motion just under four months ago.

“It’s kind of ironic we ended up here,” Ortiz said. “This location was supposed to be the first Paleta Bar in the area, but the owners opted for Albuquerque. So in a way, we completed that vision.”

Ortiz said the 1,900-square-foot restaurant area, which is still under construction, should be up and running at full capacity by the beginning of October.

“We have a really nice-size kitchen space and office in the back,” he said.

As far as projected jobs, that will be determined after the business is up and running. Ortiz said it depends on how busy the store gets.

“We project 10 to seven employees, only because we aren’t sure how much business we will get at this location,” he said. “But I can say it is one of the larger locations in the area.”

The Paleta Bar chain reaches from San Diego, Calif., all the way to Las Cruces, and Ortiz said there are plans for this franchise to continue growing nationally.

According to the company’s website, a franchise can cost anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000, depending on how much training and equipment is needed.

“I think that there is a huge market for this kind of service in Rio Rancho,” Ortiz said. “The Bernalillo location is doing very, very well, and I foresee this spot doing the same.”

For information on the Paleta Bar, go to