When a business Facebook page and a sign out front advertises “Purple Cow,” “Blue Moon” and “Tutti Frutti,” it’s almost certain that fun will follow.
People tend to be in a good mood when they go out for ice cream. Robert Tracey, who owns and operates Cone Zone, 444 W. High St., with his daughters, Cate Casey-Schmidt and Maggie Henneberry, has found that to be the case.
“Everybody’s in a good mood when they’re coming to have ice cream,” Tracey said.
That’s one of the reasons he likes being in the ice cream business.
Sometimes he will look out on the patio and see four women talking for an hour or more.
“I just love that,” he said. “I love to see groups just sit and visit.”
High school students and recent grads, too, meet and catch up with one another at the Cone Zone, he said.
Cone Zone opening for the season in March is a sure sign of spring and when it closes mid-October, it’s a sign that winter is just around the corner.
One of the busiest days is the last day of school – when students walk to the Cone Zone with their teachers.
“It’s pretty neat to watch them walking down the road,” Tracey said. When they get to about Link’s Auto Repair, he said they start running.
Last year, Cone Zone won second place and the People’s Choice Award in the July 4 community parade of homes and businesses. The business otherwise can’t be in the traditional parade because people head to the Cone Zone right after the parade.
“We’re packed,” he said.
This year, Cone Zone’s Firework debuted. It’s a blue raspberry slush with vanilla soft serve topped with strawberries.
“It was so popular we still have it,” he said, “ and it’s probably going to be a regular item.”
How do they come up with new menu items?
“We just mess around,” Maggie said.
“Or someone will order something and say we should try it,” Cate said.
“So many people come in and they’ll request a bunch of ingredients,” Tracey said, wondering if they dream about ice cream.
Top-selling flavors include Cake Batter, Blue Moon and black raspberry.
One of the most common questions is what flavor is Purple Cow. Grape is the answer.
In addition to cones, “Creations” with candy mixed in are popular – so are turtle brownie sundaes and dirt cups.
For those who can’t eat gluten or dairy, there’s Dole Whip. Pineapple, available every week, is the most popular. A second flavor rotates every week. Last year cherry was added. Next year, watermelon will be added to the rotation of eight flavors.
Not everyone knows Cone Zone sells three subs and pasta salad from the Italian House in Janesville and Bill’s World Famous Lemonade (fresh or frozen). These items, too, are popular.
Tracey has a new menu item he’s going to test in August or September.
“If it goes over well, it will be on the menu next season,” he said.
He said he’s always thinking of new items.
“The cone business is a lot of work but a lot of fun,” Tracey said.
As he was being interviewed last week, a customer went by on a bike and said hi to him.
Tracey commented he’s thankful for the community support and according to comments on Facebook, customers come from as far as Rockton, Illinois.
“What started out as a little ice cream shop has turned into something we could have never imagined,” a Cone Zone Facebook post said. “The amount of business and support we receive from not only the city of Milton, but now all the surrounding cities is unbelievable. Thank you to everyone who has helped us grow into what we are today, especially our hardworking employees.”