La Perla Jarocha

The Pearl of Veracruz is a dream fulfilled

-Messenger photo by David Borer
Viviana Sosa and Hilda Martinez fill cups of salsa at La Perla Jarocha.

In 2006, a small food store opened on Seneca Street, catering to the growing Hispanic community here in Webster City. The owner of the shop, Julia Sosa, also worked at Webster City Custom Meats here in town.

To fulfill her dream, which was to have her own business, she was challenged by holding down both jobs while also raising four daughters. When the banks did not approve a loan, she turned to family; a sister helped with the funds she needed to begin the business.

The family, including nieces and nephews assisted in many more ways; pricing items was a favorite as the youngsters loved putting the stickers on the products. Now, years later, Julia Sosa owns a larger food store with a restaurant attached.

La Perla Jarocha is a stable part of Webster City, providing items not available at larger food markets and serving delicious food in a comfortable atmosphere. Many of the menu items originate from the state of Veracruz, in Mexico, where Julia Sosa is from.

La Perla Jarocha means “The Pearl of Veracruz.” Sosa, her daughter Viviana and the restaurant all live up to the image. It’s not a family business so much as a business including family.

-Messenger photo by David Borer
Julia Sosa, right, poses with, from left, Miguel Santos and Lily Ceto. They are standing in the La Perla Jarocha grocery store, 611 Second Street, Webster City.

Quite often, particular items that are needed for the store and restaurant have to be purchased from merchants as far away as Chicago, because of the lack of availability closer to home. It’s one of the challenges this family has taken on and bested over the years. Viviana manages the restaurant while Julia runs the store. She is quick to point out her joy of having four daughters and five grandchildren all close at hand; they are why she has worked so long and hard to realize her dream.

And what of the food and atmosphere of La Perla Jarocha?

The tables and booths reflect the beauty of coastal beaches that are Mexico, decorated and carved there and brought up to Iowa from the area of Jalisco. The staff are cheerful and eager to help, suggesting items that are served up like the sizzling chicken fajitas, full of tomatoes, peppers and chopped chicken.

Or try the La Perla Jarocha Special, a grilled steak with a mix of mushrooms, shrimp and scallops in a spicy, buttery garlic sauce.

When visiting with Sosa, she shared that the best thing about Webster City, after living here for many years, is that “it IS Webster City.” Not the biggest town around. Not the smallest either. Simply the best in her mind. And the ability to “dream big” and see the dream as a reality is why she says Mexico is her heritage but there is no place like America to live.

-Messenger photo by David Borer
The table is set at La Perla's restaurant.

And the dream isn’t over; Julia’s goal is to one day open a boutique. She’s still dreaming big and working hard to realize it.


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