Summertime and ice cream go hand in hand. For locals and folks who come for the lake life, that means plenty of visits to Joe’s Ice Cream Supreme in Syracuse. For many, a trip to Joe’s on a warm summer night is a tradition. The Yoder family enables memories to be made as they continue to own and operate the 18-year-old business.
“It’s been open since 2003,” Dawn Yoder says. “It was my husband’s grandpa’s dream to own an ice cream shop. His name was Joe. He designed it and had it built. It still looks pretty much the same except the patio, where the tables are, has been expanded. Joe passed away shortly after it first opened.”
It’s a seasonal business, and Joe’s usually opens toward the end of April. It signals the beginning of summer and good times ahead. It remains open until the third week in October. While school is in session, it only operates on weekends. During peak months, its hours are noon until between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. During an extremely busy night, it might remain open even longer.
“New this year is that we are offering Dole Whip, which is a gluten- and dairy-free pineapple soft serve,” Yoder says. “Soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream are our biggest sellers, with the flavors of butter pecan, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter cup and blue moon as the most popular. There are other often-ordered flavors but those four are always at the top.”
Customers are typically lined up at the shop, waiting to order their favorite flavors. There are many options to pick from, and several different flavors of soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream are available along with specialty sundaes, floats, sodas, slushies and more. Nothing on the menu for an individual order is over $6. Soft-serve cones are priced around $3, while an upside-down banana split is $5.99. Customers can carry home quarts of soft serve, homemade custard and hand-dipped ice cream as well.
“In recent years, people are trying more than just hand-dipped cones,” Yoder says. “They are mixing flavors. Sundaes are ordered a lot. We created a Reese’s one with hot fudge and peanut butter cups over a mound of vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. We serve chocolate and cherry sodas, which a lot of places don’t do anymore. One lady came in and ordered a chocolate soda. She said her grandfather had owned a dime store and she would get chocolate sodas there as a kid. She told us exactly how she wanted it, with a lot of chocolate. Afterwards, we watched for her so we could make sure her chocolate sodas were made just the way she liked.”
Both of Yoder’s children work at the shop. It also provides employment for about 20 other teenagers during the season. Since it is open every day of the week during peak summertime, many hours of work need to be put in by the team. The employees seem to have a great time as they gain experience at the store.
When asked about the future of Joe’s Ice Cream Supreme, Yoder says she and her husband Jim hope their kids keep it running.
“It’s hard to tell what path they will go in, but putting in the hours at the shop is a great way to teach them a work ethic,” Yoder says. “I don’t see Joe’s slowing down. Ice cream is timeless. It brings back memories so many people have. I hope it continues. We are a family-owned business and we try to make sure each customer feels like they are the most important person to us while they are here. At times we stay open later just to make sure everyone is taken care of. The kids that work here get to know the names of customers. We appreciate their business and their smiling faces.”
Joe’s Ice Cream Supreme is located at 1201 South Huntington Street in Syracuse. For more info, call 574-457-8763.
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