Platteville Hispanic Businesses

Recovering from COVID-19 and overcoming language barriers

3 Marías Ice Cream Facebook photo

3 Marías Ice Cream Facebook photo

For growing Hispanic businesses in Platteville, such as the 3 Marias ice cream shop, language barriers and lack of publicity are obstacles to garnering support and recognition from the community.

Professor Christopher Schulenburg from the Spanish department at UW-Platteville and 3 Marias employee Lizbeth Moreno both stated that they did not see Hispanic businesses in the news very often. 

“Those businesses deserve more attention because they’re very solid businesses,” said Schulenburg. This thought is echoed Moreno, who feels that “there’s a lot missing” in terms of their publicity. 

3 Marias and other Hispanic businesses could use help as both the businesses and their employees recover from the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns last year. For example, Moreno stopped working in March of 2020 and did not return until 3 Marias reopened that August. This caused her to lose the reliable income from her job for about 5 months. 

Since then, she said that she has had positive interactions with customers, specifically with students who, she says, “bring happiness here to the business with their mischief and their jokes.” She is passionate about her job, which allows her to attend to customers and chat with them. However, she still thinks that the business is not as close with the community as she would like.

Schulenburg, who has extensively studied Latin-American language and culture, proposed implementing more Spanish curricula into a broader range of schools as a possible solution to the disconnect between Hispanic businesses and the community. “It’s (Spanish) in high school, it’s in middle school, but hopefully it will be taught in the future in all the schools – from the beginning.”

 He also pointed out that the university’s Spanish requirement for students is only one year of classes, but that it would benefit both students and Hispanic businesses if students received more Spanish education to increase their fluency. When asked about which aspects of Hispanic culture could benefit others in Platteville, Schulenburg said, “All of them, all of them. The music, the language, the cinema, the literature, the celebrations.”

The Hispanic population in Southwest Wisconsin is increasing, according to Schulenburg, which implies that communities supporting their Hispanic-operated businesses will be an ongoing need. The communities must continue to find improved ways to provide not only economic support to those businesses, but also recognition and solidarity. 

“With roots as deep as (local Hispanic businesses’) up to now, they’re only going to grow in the future,” said Schulenburg. Moreno also had high hopes for 3 Marias in the future, stating that “the goal for next year is to go and visit the university,” because she wants people there to know the business better.

Readers can support 3 Marias by ordering an ice cream treat, like the signature 3 Marias dish, and learning about the rich Hispanic influence the business brings to Platteville.