Mérida, Yucatán — Pola Gelato Shop has expanded next door, and they have expanded their menu. Now they’re offering creative combinations of fruits, veggies and — of course — chiles, in their newly inaugurated Pola Juice Bar.
The original gelato shop opened in November 2014, and Santa Lucia’s foodie scene has grown around it. Their original operation seems to complement the newer eateries rather than compete, and they have received consistently high ratings on TripAdvisor, where it is rated No. 1 for desserts in the city.
“Everything is perfect,” a visitor from Switzerland raved last week. “The design of the shop, the privé, the quality of the gelato, the choices … go there without a doubt!”
The paint is hardly dry at the juice bar, and they haven’t established themselves on TripAdvisor yet, but there’s no reason to doubt the juice bar will replicate the first Pola’s success.
The juice bar serves five different made-to-order juices. One of the owners, Rane, told us her favorites are Liquid Sunshine, made with carrot, apple and orange; and Xcatastic, which is a blend of xcatic chile, pineapple, cucumber and orange.
Pola Juice Bar also offers five different smoothies, including Zanadu, with carrot, mango, and strawberry with coconut milk and orange; and El Mono Loco, with banana, chocolate and peanut butter.
Customers can also mix and match to make their own combinations with any ingredients they have on hand.
“We also serve aguas frescas, which vary depending on what we find that looks good in the market that day,” says Rane.
Or, if you really want to bite into something, they’re mixing up batter.
“Finally, we serve waffles!” said Rane. “You can get them topped with Nutella, maple, honey, peanut butter or almonds.”
We had more questions for Rane:
What do you attribute to your growth?
We think people see that it’s a business with integrity. We use local, high quality ingredients and try to bring out the best of what the Yucatán Peninsula has to offer — there are so many amazing natural fruits, nuts and spices! And we work really hard to provide the best possible product for the lowest possible price. Another factor is that our employees are really integrated as part of the team — they help us come up with new flavors and names. We think this makes our customers feel like they’re part of the team as well — the fun we all have in creating new flavors can be felt by our customers who feel like part of the adventure. We wanted to build off of that success as a team and that inspired us to open Pola Juice Bar together.
Expanding into juices is such a logical extension. Do you wish you did this sooner?
The opportunity really came at the right time. We felt like Pola Gelato Shop had a really good rhythm going and we were ready to branch out, but we needed more space. We didn’t want to limit our gelato flavors or crowd the seating area too much. The space next door opened up and we jumped at the chance. We tried to infuse it with the same sense of light and freshness as the Gelato Shop. We painted a huge sun on the wall to exemplify that energy.
You’re close to Parque Santa Lucia, which is so different these days. Has your street changed much? How is it different?
Santa Lucia has so much life these days! We love all the people that come to dance in the square on Thursdays and Sundays — nothing will stop them from getting their groove on — not even the heat! The biggest change we’ve seen on our block is the arrival of Fundacion de Artistas, a wonderful gallery space, and the launch of Color Amor’s gourmet shop across the street in a beautiful watermelon pink colonial house. Our neighbors are all very supportive and it’s been exciting to be a part of the growing Santa Lucia scene.
Has anyone ordered an unusual combination of ingredients? Which one is your runaway hit? You had gelato with chiles, and I wonder if that craving for heat has expanded to juices — how well does Xcatastic sell?
No one has ordered anything unusual yet, but we’re waiting for them to bring their foodie creativity! People have been really excited about our Mono Loco smoothie and the Liquid Sunshine juice. Our personal favorite is our Xcatastic juice — made with the local xcatic chile. It’s got a super fresh, unique taste that’s not as spicy as one would think.
What is the price range for your juices?
Our juices are $45, our smoothies are $50, our waffles are $35 and our aguas frescas are $20.
Pola Juice Bar is in the Centro on Calle 55 #467E, between 64 and 62. More information and photos appear on their Facebook page.