Mamma Mia! Italian Ice food truck Pop Pop’s gets brick-and-mortar - Albuquerque Journal

Mamma Mia! Italian Ice food truck Pop Pop’s gets brick-and-mortar

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many food businesses struggled.

Not Pop Pop’s Italian Ice.

“Our business doubled,” said Pop Pop’s co-owner Ty Martinelli. “… I think because we started out as trucks, and everyone just wanted to be out of parks and out of their house.”

And the growth hasn’t slowed.

“Ever since, we’ve doubled every year,” Martinelli said.

Martinelli, boyfriend Dominic Maestas and dad Ric Martinelli started out with just one food truck. Now, they co-own five Pop Pop’s Italian Ice trucks. In September, they opened their first brick-and-mortar location at 6300 San Mateo NE, with a grand opening scheduled for Balloon Fiesta weekend. And, two more food trucks are soon to come.

“I enjoy it,” Ty Martinelli said. “It’s really a lot of like, family and friends and kids that we serve too, so it’s super cool to just put a smile on kids’ faces at birthday parties, or graduations — we’ve even done weddings.”

Maestas and the Martinellis bought the business from the former owner, Pete Kropf, in December 2018. Martinelli, who worked at Pop Pop’s in high school, was just 21 years old when Kropf announced he was selling.

“I kind of feel like this fell in my lap in a way,” said Martinelli, now 25. “I was super blessed, you know, to know the old owner Pete and super glad that he reached out to me and told me that he was selling.”

Although Kropf had a box truck when he ran the business, Martinelli said it rarely got used – except as advertising. Kropf had two brick-and-mortar locations, but when Martinelli took over the business she shifted the business model to focus on food trucks.

“It was just the fastest way to open, because we went through the county and not the city,” Martinelli said. “And they made it really easy for us just to open up.”

Pop Pop’s menu includes seven flavors of Italian ice, as well as gelati and other snacks like nachos, pretzels and popcorn. Martinelli’s favorite is the blue raspberry Italian ice.

Before she bought Pop Pop’s, Martinelli said she was unsure what she wanted to do as a career. But being a business owner has been the right fit, she said.

“It’s super fulfilling to know how far we have come,” Martinelli said. “I think for me personally … I kind of started out not knowing what I wanted to do, so just knowing how far we have come five trucks starting this year, it’s super exciting.”

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