Enrique Medina spent $400,000 and several months building a Coco’s location on West Waco Drive for a friend, complete with a drive-thru lane and window, ordering station, landscaping and a playground.
Alas, the partnership faltered. Coco’s closed, though it still sells frozen treats at its original location on Bosque Boulevard, and a new purveyor of sweets called The Mangos is welcoming guests craving nieves de agua, or sorbet, nieves de leche, or ice cream, shaved ice and an array of snacks including banana splits.
Medina, 39, who owns a roofing company in McGregor, said he regrets the business arrangement with Coco’s founder Manuel Mendez ended, but he still considers Mendez a friend. He said with bills to pay, he scrambled to find a new tenant for the Coco’s site and struck a deal with Ernesto Nunez, who owns a local trucking company.
“We opened last Sunday,” Abby Nunez, a daughter, said Saturday.
Her father joined forces with other relatives to open The Mangos, tapping into familial experience with similar locations around the state, including Dallas, Abby Nunez said.
Mendez did not return calls seeking comment on the closing of Coco’s on Waco Drive. He opened the Bosque location 14 years ago, creating a loyal following for his frozen treats. The Coco’s on Waco Drive was to become his “flagship” store.
Like Medina, Mendez is an immigrant, having fled his native El Salvador in 1986, at age 18, to escape a lingering civil war. He said he entered this country illegally but later received amnesty through the Reagan-era Immigration Reform and Control Act, and now has a green card.
“It just didn’t work out,” Medina said. “You know, he invited me to build something for him, for us to be partners, but we ran into problems. He had his son representing him on the running of the business, and I had my son representing me. They were learning the business, but as I said, it just didn’t work out.”
Medina has come a long way, geographically and professionally, since moving to the United States 23 years ago. He grew up in the Mexican state of Queretaro, known for its lush tropical forests and mountains.
“It is one of the most beautiful states, and there is no crime,” Medina said. “But it is really poor, and there is no work, actually. The city people may have work, but I lived in the mountains and tried to find work there.”
Relatives had moved to the United States seeking jobs, and Medina followed their lead, first living with a sister in Austin for six months. He found work on construction crews around Central Texas, saving his money, buying his own tools, planning for the future and starting his own company.
“My dad told me, ‘Just get here,’ so I did, and I started working hard,” he said. “I learned to roof in McGregor, and several contractors began giving me jobs, including Parsons Roofing and Cen-Tex Roofing. A few years ago, I went out on my own, and now I have a crew of about 10 people.”
He nails down jobs locally, but also spends considerable time and resources along the Gulf Coast, repairing and roofing homes within Hurricane Harvey’s path of destruction. He does not simply bark orders. He climbs ladders, hoists roofing materials and wields a nail gun, or hammer when necessary.
He gave the interview for this story from a job site at a home in Corpus Christi.
With the money he makes, he likes to invest in real estate.
He owns the building next door to The Mangos, leasing it to the owners and operators of a Tex-Mex restaurant called The Ranchito Five.
“I paid $340,000 for that building, and I’ve been offered $600,000,” Mendez said. “I also own a building on Primrose Drive used by an antique shop.”
That would be 2911 Primrose Drive, occupied by Kandi Jo’s Resale Shop.
“Enrique is great. I value him a lot,” proprietor Kandi Jo Scott said. “He bought the building about a year ago. He’s a humble person, and I like him.”
Married with three children, Medina said he spends as much time as he can with his family. He visits Mexico at Christmas to see his mother and father, who returned after decades in the United States.
“But roofing is my business, what I do every day,” he said. “It’s what I’ve done five or six days a week for more than 20 years, usually from 7 in the morning to 7 at night, if not longer, counting time we spend securing the job site.”
Waco City Council member Dillon Meek, a longtime fan of Coco’s, said he was excited when the second location opened in his neighborhood. He hated to see Coco’s close but welcomes The Mangos to the area.
“That is an important part of the city,” Meek said. “It is on the fringes of downtown, is a gateway to downtown, and serves as a walkable, fun area for people leaving the Austin Avenue and Sanger Heights neighborhoods. … There are so many rooftops near that 23rd Street, and it’s great people can swing through there with their families.
“It doesn’t hurt that El Ranchito has become one of my favorite restaurants. I know several of the waiters and waitresses there.”