MANSFIELD -- Richland County has its fair share of Mexican restaurants, ice cream parlors and coffee shops. But Lexington Avenue’s newest eatery, Dulce Amor, might be the first to combine all three.
Dulce Amor opened April 24 at 1350 Lexington Avenue. It’s a family business, owned and operated by Jesus, Luis and Natalia Davalos and Elizabeth Aguirre, who serves as the shop manager. The coffee and sweet shop is the latest family venture -- Jesus owns Pancho’s Tacos, Luis and Natalia own El Campestre and Los Tres Mayas.
For Aguirre, who trained as a barista, breadmaker and pastry chef at the GQB Escuela de Arte Culinario in Mexico, opening Dulce Amor is a dream come true.
“I’ve actually had this idea in mind for five years now,” she said. “I’ve always loved coffee, so why not?”
“I feel so proud of her,” said Natalia Davalos, Elizabeth's mother. “That's something that she always wanted to do.”
When a storefront opened up just two doors down from Pancho’s Tacos, the family saw an opportunity to bring a new type of Mexican cuisine to Mansfield.
“People have been asking for Mexican dessert, Mexican ice cream and all this stuff,” Jesus said. “Pancho’s is too small. We don't have room to do that. And then one day there was an empty building.
“It took us almost a year to open because of the permits and the architectural codes. We’ve been busy."
The coffee shop side offers classic hot and cold drinks, frappuccinos, teas and smoothies. Adventurous coffee drinkers can try a turmeric latte, horchata iced coffee or Mexican hot chocolate.
The dessert half focuses on the sweeter side of Mexican fare, with traditional desserts such as strawberries and cream, sweet and spicy mangonada smoothies and paletas -- scratch made popsicles with real fruits and sugars.
The ice cream selection includes a mix of well-known flavors on both sides of the border. You’ll find chocolate, vanilla and cookies and cream, but you’ll also find pine nut, blackberry cream cheese and tequila ice cream flavors.
Savory snack food options like Mexican Street Corn and chicharron preparado round out the menu.
Dulce Amor also offers some healthier options, including fresh salads, smoothies and acai breakfast bowls -- all made with fresh fruits.
“There’s nothing around Mansfield like our place. I think we are a unique place,” Natalia said. “Everything is fresh, that’s what makes a difference.”
“We’ve got both. We’ve got delicious and nutritious,” Jesus added.
Natalia came up with the restaurant name, which means "sweet love" in Spanish. For her, the name evokes the happiness of a child with their favorite dessert.
“When you eat something sweet, you feel the love,” she said.