Pica Limón, the spicy business out of Sebastopol

By Elsa Cavazos, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, March 25, 2022

Janexis Lopez and her husband David started with an idea out of their truck and now have Pica Limón, a snack/candy catering business in Sonoma County.

What began as a pandemic side hustle quickly evolved into a more abundant business for the owners of Pica Limón, originally named “Chaparritas.” Sebastopol resident Janexis Lopez’s catering cart comes prepared with all the possibilities for a Mexican snack.

It all started with Lopez going to Oakland one day and noticing someone selling michelada locas — a beer or michelada mix topped with different candies or snacks such as Tostitos locos — at the flea market. Mexican street food is extremely popular in California, but Lopez said she had not seen enough of it in Sonoma County.

Lopez was working at a clinic in Santa Rosa when the new business idea came to mind and her husband David, who has been in the food vendor business for 30 years, gave her insight into how to start. She began to sell her own version of the Micheladas on Sebastopol Avenue in Santa Rosa out of her truck.

“I’m like, ‘There’s a lot of Latinos, this is the kind of stuff that we like,’” she said.

Lopez started building a social media presence for her business and slowly began to become known, but soon realized that the business venture needed a change away from being michelada-focused. Her husband suggested a cart that could fit different goodies people could choose from and she thought it was a good idea.

“I was just like, ‘Why don’t we add candy to it?’ So honestly it wasn’t a pinpoint. My original plan was let’s do michelada locas,” Lopez said.

When that new idea began Lopez had to rebrand away from “Chaparritas” — a word of endearment in Spanish for short women — and into Pica Limón. David did not understand the concept behind “Chaparritas” and suggested people who were non-Latinx might have a difficult time pronouncing the name.

“I mean, he had a point. ‘We need it to be for everyone, not just Latinos’ and I was like, ‘You know, you’re right.’ I literally got a sketchbook and was coming up with the weirdest names and somehow I just came up with Pica Limón,” she said. This new name was easier to pronounce and maintained the Latinx essence Lopez wanted.

Most Mexican street food is spicy — pica in Spanish — and has lemon/lime in it — limón. Lopez posted her new logo on March 7, 2021. The first party they catered was a gender reveal in San Jose on March 13 of that year.

The cart comes with everything needed for Tostitos locos, chips with toppings that can include cucumber, mango, jicama, peanuts, lemon and chili, chamoy and any candies possible. Hot Cheetos and Doritos are also available.

Lopez was laid off during the pandemic but has a new job. Pica Limón continues to be her side business but she enjoys calling it her own.

“I’ve always worked with David. He was my original boss, partner-slash-husband. But I like that it’s my own, our own little business. I think that’s pretty cool. I like meeting the clients, and I really enjoy going to their parties. It’s really cool to get all the positive feedback,” she said.

At the same time, Lopez has created new friendships with other party rental business owners. She is from San Leandro and has been able to create a community through Pica Limón.

Lopez said she’s been able to introduce Sonoma County to what Mexican street food is.

“And they’re like, ‘Oh, that tastes actually really good.’ Like, the savoriness and sweetness with the chamoy,” she said.

Lopez and her husband are the only staff members doing the parties. Sometimes they get help from their in-laws but not always. She said her main goal for the future is to keep going and see more growth.

“We want to be at a party where people are excited and enjoy our stuff. And whoever books just thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully, it keeps growing,” she said.


This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org