Opportunity doesn’t always knock on a door. Sometimes it is found by a for-sale sign on an ice cream food truck. At least that’s how it manifested for Craig and Christy Coon of Winamac, the owners of Round Barn Creamery.
“Craig has always been an entrepreneur, so when he saw a for-sale sign in the food trailer’s window, he made a phone call,” Christy says. “We wanted an opportunity that would allow us to be with our four kids, and allow them to work alongside us and eventually earn money for college.”
The couple purchased the food truck in 2017, inheriting some equipment and recipes from the previous owner. It is named after a round barn on the couple’s property. The barn is 100 years old.
“Christy would love to restore it, but it is in bad shape,” Craig says. “At least it can live on through our business name.”
Round Barn Creamery is like a traditional creamery, which takes milk and turns it into butter or cheese.
“We just expand on that, and take milk and turn it into ice cream,” Craig says.
This foray into the ice cream business required a new level of learning for the Coons. It is safe to say that this was not on their radar, and neither one knew very much about making ice cream. The product line came with the purchase of the food truck, and several trials and errors later, Round Barn Creamery is up and running.
“Ice cream is what the original business was, and since we both work jobs outside our ice cream business as well as home-school our children, a storefront wasn’t really a path we were wanting to explore,” Craig says.
The Coons modified the recipes that came with the truck. They wanted to make the product their own, improving it and putting their own spin on flavors.
“We both had made ice cream with our parents when we were younger,” Craig says. “Christy grew up on a dairy farm and used fresh milk.”
It wasn’t easy to perfect the techniques needed to make this business successful, especially with creating their own flavors and twists on traditional ones.
“We’ve learned what inclusions work, and what adds too much water or just doesn’t freeze well,” Craig says. “Someone may say there is no bad ice cream. I can say I’ve made one really bad one, but I learned what not to do.”
The original ice cream churn that came with the truck was an old-fashioned model that used buckets, ice and salts. That one makes five gallons at a time but takes a while to finish. According to the Coons, modern churns produce 1.5 gallons within a couple of minutes.
For Round Barn Creamery, it’s quality over quantity. The ice cream that the Coons make is different from the ice cream manufactured in many commercial kitchens.
“It’s small-batch,” Craig says. “It’s a passion for good food, and promoting dairy products and agriculture. It is also a family affair. The kids might find something and ask to make it into an ice cream flavor. Sometimes we give it a shot.”
Popular flavors include black raspberry, butter pecan, peanut butter brownie, and Oreo. Pumpkin is one seasonal flavor.
“Sunflower crunch is one we made especially for a sunflower festival, but is increasing in popularity,” Craig says.
On occasion, Round Barn Creamery can whip up special flavors for special events or celebrations. They have made special flavors for weddings, graduation parties, business celebrations and the annual Purdue Ag Fish Fry.
“Doing custom work is Christy’s favorite part,” Craig says. “Sometimes people have an exact idea in their mind. Sometimes it’s just figuring out what they want or like, and adding a twist to it, or they have a name or one ingredient they want to use, and we just build an ice cream flavor around that.”
The couple met as students at Purdue University. Both were majoring in animal sciences and were active in the Dairy Club. They have been married for 18 years.
While owning an ice cream food truck was not necessarily on the Coons’ list for successful businesses, it has become a favorite endeavor.
“Who doesn’t like ice cream?” Craig says. “Have a rough day? Ice cream makes you smile. Have a great day? A birthday? Celebrate with ice cream.”
Round Barn Creamery is a seasonal business and can be found at area events. Check out their Facebook page to stay updated on where they will be set up at facebook.com/roundbarncreamery.
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