The Igloo is one cool place to beat summer heat

Tena Loewen makes a snow cone at The Igloo Thursday. This is Loewen’s sixth summer working at The Igloo, which offers 46 flavors of snow cones and is now operating under the new ownership of her parents.
Tena Loewen makes a snow cone at The Igloo Thursday. This is Loewen’s sixth summer working at The Igloo, which offers 46 flavors of snow cones and is now operating under the new ownership of her parents.
Nothing says teachers can’t learn something new.

Dave and Joanne Loewen are educators-turned-ice-shavers as the owners of The Igloo in Hillsboro.

The Loewens bought The Igloo, which serves snow cones in a variety of flavors, in October 2016 when former owners Steve and Penni Schroeder moved to Colorado.

Dave and Joanne’s daughter, Tena, had worked at The Igloo the past five summers, and with Dave retiring from Tabor College after Inter-term last January, they said the timing seemed right to take on the new venture.

It’s something with which the entire family has become involved.

“There was a learning curve,” Dave said. “I’ve done most of the business part of it. (Tena’s) done most of the scheduling of workers.”

Tena added, “More the managing part of it. Mom does anything and everything else.”

Dave said, “We put her at the window, for PR mostly.”

Joanne agrees. Inter­acting with customers is where she’s found her niche.

“I enjoy visiting with people,” she said.

Even the Loewens’ son, David, who is working on his master’s degree at Kansas State’s Olathe campus, has also helped in behind-the-scenes roles.

The menu

The Igloo offers 46 flavors of snow cones, all of which can be made sugar free.

Snow cones range in size from mini to “Bigloo,” with prices between $1 and $2.75. Cream, a sour blast or an extra flavor may be added for an additional fee.

The Igloo also offers a flavor of the week, typically something new, to gauge customer response.

The Loewens order the flavor concentrates for their snow cones from New Orleans, Dave said. They get ice from a supplier in Newton.

“He has a whole system,” Tena said. “It’s more than just freezing it. You have to have it circulating so the block freezes evenly, and it has to have a whole purification system.”

The water used to make the ice is filtered twice, Dave said.

One 12-pound block of ice makes about 15 small snow cones, Tena said. Dave added that on average, they use 11 blocks of ice a day.

The Igloo’s most popular flavor is silver fox.

“I would describe (it) as really sweet, similar to wedding cake,” Tena said. “If you add cream, some people think it tastes like homemade ice cream.”

Asked what The Igloo’s most unique flavor is, Tena said: “I’d say dill pickle is probably our most novel thing.”

Customers can take part in the “Epic Eskimo Challenge” and attempt to try every flavor on the menu. Those who complete the challenge receive a penguin hat.

The Loewens have included some customized additions. Most notably, they plan to extend The Igloo’s season to run through September to accommodate the return of college students to Hillsboro, Tena said.

They have also added a trailer for supplies and two new picnic tables.

For a Fourth of July special, “fireworks” or “firecrackers” added an extra touch.

“Fireworks were red, white and blue sprinkles, and firecrackers were pop rocks,” Tena said. “That was kind of a hit.”

For the most part, however, The Igloo remains largely the same.

“The first year, we tried to keep things pretty much the same,” Dave said. “I think now we’re starting to see some things we might do differently.”

The Loewens said they have tossed around a number of ideas, including putting in a splash park or mini golf course or having live music, most of which are still in the “dream” stage.

Colton Bartel (left) and Brently Bartel, 4-year-old sons of Dallas and Kimberly Bartel of Hillsboro, enjoy their tasty snow cones at The Igloo on Thursday.
Colton Bartel (left) and Brently Bartel, 4-year-old sons of Dallas and Kimberly Bartel of Hillsboro, enjoy their tasty snow cones at The Igloo on Thursday.
Hours

Located at 807 East D St., The Igloo is open from 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and every evening from 7-10 p.m., May through Septem­ber.

For the Loewens, operating The Igloo is more than a business.

“It’s a neat way to connect with people,” Tena said. “They come to the window and they get to talk to you for a minute or two, so how we take that minute or two can really change someone’s day.”

Dave added: “A lot of community happens here. It’s been fun to see that.”