What started as a journey to foster a mother and daughter’s personal connection, evolved into a small business catering a variety of sweet treats to the greater Atlanta area. Photos courtesy of Dolce Tropical

What started as a journey to foster a mother and daughter’s personal connection, evolved into a small business catering a variety of sweet treats to the greater Atlanta area. Using her experience in hospitality and business as a nurse and MBA recipient, the venture’s owner, Latasha Smith, tapped into her own tropical roots and crafted relationships with members of the Mexican and Caribbean communities to create this business and pay tribute to each group’s cultures.

Based on traditional Mexican recipes, Dolce Tropical spotlights tropical tastes through their selection of Mangonadas, Strawberrynadas, and other island-inspired beverages. The business also offers ice cream sundaes paired with chocolate, cinnamon or strawberry shortcake toppings.

Locals can usually find the Dolce Tropical trike selling treats around Atlantic Station’s Creator’s Market on weekends, but the business is no stranger to other functions around metro Atlanta, having previously operated vendors at the Atlanta Open and the Interlock’s West Midtown Farmers Market.

The Atlanta Voice spoke with Latasha about the inspiration behind the business, bringing Mexican flavors to the city and her future goals for the venture. 

AV: Dolce Tropical brings an array of frozen drinks, ice creams and sorbet to the Atlanta area. How and when did you first learn to make them?

LS: I was first introduced to the Mexican flavors by way of my daughter, who is such a foodie. Then, I began to study and learn from my Mexican and Caribbean community, whom we are both very close to. It was important to us to do this right to both honor and show appreciation to the food and flavors of Mexican and Tropical cultures.

AV: What inspired you to become a small business owner? And, what about the frozen treat industry appealed to you specifically?

LS: This business was 100% inspired by God. I needed a way to connect with my daughter as she was dealing with her mental health struggles. This was the answer God gave me. He provided the vision and provided the foundation. Through my background as a nurse, earning my MBA and experience as a real estate investor, I was able to lay the groundwork to build this business. When God gives you something, you’re blown away and amazed as you begin to discover what’s already in place to be successful.

Ironically, the appeal was that we both love delicious, sweet treats. I especially love fruit. As an admirer of the culture, I was a customer long before I was an owner and creative.

AV: Your website says that your treats are inspired by your tropical roots. In what ways has your heritage influenced your entrepreneurial pursuits, and how has it shaped you as a person?

LS: Growing up in Florida, which extends from the northern Bay Area to the southern tip of the state, we grew up surrounded by water and a warm, subtropical climate. We were blessed to eat fruit from a vine, or picked them from trees such as Japanese plums, figs, Chickasaw plums, pears, nectarines, oranges, berries, mangos and more. I also have extended family in the West Indies/Jamaican cultures. 

AV: What makes a venture like this successful in a market as racially and ethnically diverse as Atlanta?

LS: They say the key to starting a successful business is to identify and then create something that solves a need. The idea is not to recreate the wheel, just identify the need and try to satisfy the need and if you believe in yourself enough, do it with a flair. Tropical fruit drinks like the Mangonada have long been a staple and true delicacy in the Mexican community and most island cultures. I have friends from Africa, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic who love mango anything. They tell me all the time how the taste reminds them of home. I wanted that for Atlanta so that people, no matter where they’re from, could enjoy a piece of home. 

AV: You’re introducing traditionally Mexican flavors to a crowd that may be unfamiliar with the nation’s culture. How would you convince a skeptical potential customer to try a Mangonada, Strawberrynada, or one of the other treats you offer?

LS: Education is a big part of our customer experience. So, if you ever visit us, we are primed and eager to serve with a smile. Our enthusiasm alone to answer any questions you have converts most potential food enthusiasts. We enjoy sharing with you the way the flavor combinations provide a sweet and savory combination that gives your taste buds such a vibe that it’s on another level. It doesn’t take long to convert them from a curious patron to an immediate customer to then a returning customer. We like to say, “It’s an experience in a cup”. To note, most people love most things Mexican! 

AV: What’s the most challenging aspect of running a small business? What’s the most rewarding aspect?

The most challenging aspects would be the pressures you put on yourself to do your best, be the best, offer the best. Lots of sleepless nights, disappointing losses. For me, the reward comes in the morning which is the time you are reminded of your “why”. And once you’re reminded of your “why”, it fuels you, propels you to go forward and do more. God’s grace each morning you rise, provides you what you need to do it again, better and stronger.

AV: What are some long-term goals you have for Dolce Tropical, and for yourself as an entrepreneur?

We hope to grow the business to multiple locations so we can serve people in multiple areas. These flavors are meant to be savored, and we have so much more to share. I just want to grow this brand, learn as much as I can and share it with as many smiling faces as possible. Good food is meant to be shared. 

Keep up with Dolce Tropical on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to follow the business’s whereabouts, or to contact the team for catering opportunities.