As a mother of a 3-year-old girl, Gina Estrada felt the beach area of Imperial Beach was missing healthy and fresh food choices. Her answer to her problem was to open her own eatery that serves smoothies, juices, salads, bowls and more - all made fresh on site.
Last week Estrada and her husband Salomon soft opened IB Fresh Co. with a small but varied menu for customers to chose from. The couple is currently trying out dishes and drinks and getting a feel for what their customers like and get ready for their official opening on Oct. 31.
Estrada explained that the restaurant is introducing new dishes and drinks every day. She is targeting her menu to locals by offering items for all tastes and needs, whether customers have allergies, are vegan or vegetarians, there is something for everyone to chose from at IB Fresh Co. Estrada hopes her eatery will become the go-to place for people going to work and picking up lunch or even parents stopping by to pick up a healthy lunch for their children.
Although the menu can serve as a guide, IB Fresh Co. will let diners customize their orders as well, with the ingredients they prefer.
The current soft opening menu features the typical American breakfast with eggs, toast and bacon, Huevos Rancheros and omelettes for those who miss the Wave Café which was located where IB Fresh Co. is now. For customers who want lighter, healthier choices there is a lot to chose from. Fruit bowls can be served with granola, yogurt and honey or you can chose Tajin, salt and lemon. Juices are filing and delicious as in the case of the Detox, made with apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, lime and agave; or the Oasis made with pineapple, strawberry and orange juice. Smoothies include the Green Morning with strawberry, spinach, banana, blueberries, almond milk and cinnamon. All juices and smoothies are made with the freshest ingredients and you can watch while they are being prepared. For lunch you can make your own salads and add protein with choices of beef, chicken, eggs or cheese.
Estrada has introduced a typical dessert of the area where she is from in Mexico. She called it Freshcocita which consists of an ice cream cone filled with choices of chocolate, cheese or strawberry jam cream cheese and more. Freshcocita is inspired by the Marquesita, a Mexican dessert from Yucatan invented by an ice cream seller who wanted to continue his business during winter without selling ice cream. Using an ice cream cone he filled it with different things from his cart like toppings. The result is a delicious dessert.
“Don’t be afraid to taste flavors you don’t expect to go together,” said Estrada’s brother Guillermo Fragoso who was at IB Fresh Co. to lend a hand.
Estrada, who lives close to the restaurant, has been a resident of Imperial Beach for the past five years. Her family owns restaurants and hotels in the state of Mexico and Estrada studied food and beverage management in college, so the choice to open a restaurant came naturally to her.
Estrada saw the opportunity become a reality for her idea of opening a healthy restaurant when the Wave Café closed and the place became available. The family did the remodel themselves and used colors that inspire freshness, like yellow, greens and light browns.
“It’a a family owned business and I wanted to bring that feel here. When you come in we want people feel that way,” said Fragoso.
“We want to spoil everyone in a healthy way; everything is made from scratch, all ingredients are fresh,” said Estrada. She is currently looking at sourcing produce from local farms. Everything is made on site including tortillas and the famous salsa verde.
Open for only a week IB Fresh Co. already has a following. Some people come to get their detox shot every day. One of the regulars is Rhonda Hammond who also happened to be IB Fresh’s very first customer. She ordered six Frescocitas to bring to a get together with friends and everyone loved the dessert. On this day, she brought a friend after taking a yoga class and the two ordered Gazpacho Cocktail, a fruit cocktail that in addition to fruit has onion, chile serrano and lemon. This dish was featured during the Taste of IB the week before.
“The food is great, the people are friendly, and the place is cute,” said Hammond.
Estrada is excited to be able to introduce some of the typical dishes from the Central South area of Mexico where she is from like the Gazpacho Cocktail.
“We want people to say [about the ingredients] ‘I don’t know if it goes together but I’ll try it,’ ” said Fragoso.
Estrada is working on setting up IB Fresh Co.’s website so that customers can order online and drive by to pick up their food if they are in a hurry. She has hired local people to work at the restaurant; for some, it is their first job and she is still looking for a chef.
Estrada is currently introducing a new item on the menu every day to see what her customers like and listen to their feedback. This week she’ll make Paella using a secret recipe. “Every single day I’m changing things to make it perfect. I want people to come and say ‘I love it here’” she said.
The Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce will hold its monthly mixer at IB Fresh Co. on Oct. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is welcome. $10 ticket at the door. Seating is limited to 30.
IB Fresh Co., 809 Seacoast Drive. Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.