A little more than a year ago, Perla Pineda said she had a thought in the back of her mind that would not let her get a good night’s rest.
“I felt like something else was calling me,” she said.
She remembers waking up in the middle of the night and telling her fiance, Sergio Ferreira, that they needed to start selling food.
That was the start of a passion project that set its roots through social media and blossomed into Miches and Ceviches, a mobile food operation that has become a much sought after Watsonville dining experience.
Inspired by their families’ culinary traditions, Pineda and Ferreira’s food trailer, as the name would suggest, prides itself on its various Mexican seafood dishes and unique michelada mix—a michelada is a drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice and chile peppers.
Pineda says that people from all over the Central Coast visit Miches and Ceviches at their location on the 1400 block of Freedom Boulevard and that the word about their operation continues to spread.
“The response has been insane,” she said.
Pineda’s biggest sellers, she says, are their ceviches and aguachiles. They also make tacos and empanadas. She says she took her family’s recipes and put her own twist on them, making them fresher, spicier or sweeter—whatever was needed to make them to Pineda’s liking.
“It’s all the same concept but I changed it up a bit to make it my own,” she said.
Miches and Ceviches officially opened its physical location in November, but Pineda and Ferreira say the idea began with a social media account dubbed Meals in Heels, in which the former would share photos and recipes over Instagram. The account grew to just more than 700 followers over the course of six years.
But late last year, Pineda held her first online sale through Instagram, offering ceviche, aguachile and michelada mix. The response, she says, was overwhelmingly positive. A few weeks later, Miches and Ceviche was born.
“And it blew up,” Ferreira said.
They sold 10 plates of food for their first online sale, but the whiz-bang world of social media helped spread the word about the small start up. They more than doubled their orders the second time around, and their third sale, around New Year’s Day, created a snaking line out the door of their apartment. The business has continued to grow since then, Pineda says.
The Miches and Ceviches Instagram account now has more than 4,400 followers.
“Social media, it’s crazy,” Pineda said. “The word spread so fast.”
Despite that success, the couple says it was reluctant to make Miches and Ceviches its top priority and primary source of income, as both had full-time jobs. It wasn’t until Pineda was laid off from Girls Inc. at the beginning of the pandemic that she finally decided to make the leap.
“Initially, I wanted to juggle both things but I’m really thankful that I got laid off,” she said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
It took an arduous 10 months to receive all the approvals they needed from the County Health Department and finally get their trailer on the road, Pineda says, but that process taught her the ins and outs of becoming a business owner, such as how to balance overhead costs and hire employees.
“It was a lot of late nights but we’ve had a lot of help from family and friends,” Pineda said. “We’ve been very blessed to have a great support system.”
Included in that support system, Pineda and Ferreira say, are their parents, who inspired the food they serve today. Pineda’s brothers helped design the business’ logo and the colorful yellow and red strikers on the outside of the trailer, which feature images of tacos, shrimps, pineapples and the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Also depicted on the trailer: Pineda’s grandfather and Ferreira’s father, the patriarchs of their family.
“I love what food does,” Pineda said. “It brings people together, whether it’s at home with your family or festivities. It’s just a time when people can gather and laugh and enjoy life.”