LISA M. LEONARD Correspondent Tribune
Berta Quintero loves owning a business.
When she and co-owner Micaela Ticum opened Reinita Ice Cream Shop at 130 N. Main St. in May, Quintero knew she could count on her restaurant’s customers to support her latest venture.
“A lot of Fremont customers support Spanish businesses,” said Quintero, who opened Reinita Restaurant at 414 N. Main St. in October 2020.
The inspiration behind the name is Quintero’s mother, Reina.
“Everyone calls her Reinita because she’s so tiny,” she said. “In English it means Little Queen.”
Born in Guatemala, Quintero and her family came to America when she was 17.
“We settled in York, Nebraska, but moved to Fremont when my mom got hired at Hormel,” she said.
Quintero’s first business was Decoration Michelle, a party supply store on Military Avenue and Broad Street, which she opened in 2015.
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“There used to be a liquor store there,” she said, “and I thought it was a good location for a Spanish business.”
Four months later, it found itself facing fierce competition, so Quintero decided to use some of the space for another business, which would generate more revenue.
“A friend suggested an ice cream shop,” Quintero said. “He felt that Fremont really needed it.”
“The second floor was used for storage,” said Quintero’s daughter Kaylee, 12, who started helping out at the party supply store when she was 7. “When Mom opened the ice cream shop, we turned the floor into a place where customers could try on dresses.
Kaylee joked that being the owner’s daughter didn’t automatically entitle her to all the ice cream she wanted.
“My dad said, ‘You have to work for this.’ So that’s what I did,” Kaylee added.
Quintero quickly discovered that there was a much greater demand for ice cream than for party supplies.
The pandemic kept customers away, and Quintero had to find another way to make a living.
When she was hired as a supervisor at Lincoln Premium Poultry, Quintero called her friend, Micaela Ticum, who had worked for her at the ice cream shop, and asked her to come back to work for her.
“Micaela liked to take care of everything,” Quintero said. “I could see she had good management skills.”
Ticum had started his own cleaning business, Ody Cleaning Service, to generate more income during the winter months when customers weren’t coming for ice cream.
In addition to his work at Lincoln Premium, Quintero also ran Reinita’s restaurant.
“My mom told me I had to focus on the restaurant, so I quit my job at Lincoln Premium,” she said.
When Ticum expressed interest in buying the Military Avenue Ice Cream Shop, Quintero asked him to partner with her to open a new one on Main Street.
“I was interested in the downtown location because that’s where my restaurant is,” Quintero said. “The owner of the print shop (on Main Street) had space she didn’t need and was happy with the rent I was willing to pay.”
In addition to being co-owners of Reinita’s Ice Cream Shop, which opened in May, Quintero and Ticum are busy moms.
Kaylee Quintero, who continues to serve customers, has two siblings: Manuel, 13, and Arantza, 7. All three attend Cedar Bluffs Public School.
Ticum’s two children, Sheila, 8, and Berwin, 3, are dating Archbishop Bergan.
“We want everyone to know that we work hard,” Quintero said. “We would like to have ice cream parlors in other cities.”
The next city on the map appears to be Columbus.
“A lot of our customers live there,” Quintero said. “They need it there.”
Quintero is deeply committed to its business as well as its community. She joined the Main Street organization, whose goal is to promote and revitalize downtown Fremont.
She also enjoys helping out with the Spanish Festival held at John C. Fremont Park.
“We have a parade, music and dancing, games for the kids and lots of food,” she said.
Reinita’s offers a food truck where attendees can enjoy one of the most popular selections, the Reinita Platio.
“A lot of people come to the festival,” Quintero said. “I love seeing Americans come hang out with Spaniards, learn from each other.”
Quintero is also a member of the BID (Business Improvement District).
“We’re talking about what’s good for downtown Fremont,” Quintero said. “The mayor (Joey Spellerberg) called me and asked if I wanted to join BID. He said he had heard a lot of good things about me, that I was doing good things and working hard. He also said everyone liked my food at Reinita.