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The Davenport Tastee Freez has reopened with new owners and a new name, Rockingham Dairy Freez

Shown left to right are Alan and Margaret Carter and Tara Kirschenmann. All photos by Phil Roberts.

New paint has dressed up the exterior.

This message is good news to many.

The extensive food menu.

Lots to enjoy for ice cream lovers.

I whined when Tara Kirschenmann of Moline decided not to reopen the Davenport Tastee Freez, which she had owned for about three decades. I missed the landmark fast food/ice cream shop at 3950 Rockingham Road.

But now there’s reason to celebrate. The little place, which was the last remaining Tastee Freez in Iowa, has reopened with new owners and a new name, Rockingham Dairy Freez.

Margaret and Alan Carter, who grew up in the neighborhood, bought the place in early June and opened for business in July after making improvements inside and out.

I stopped in recently to meet the new owners and order my favorite snack from the place, a large order of fried mushrooms with buttermilk dressing for dipping and a small chocolate soda, all for $5.01.
“How’s business?” I asked Alan Carter.

“It’s been great,” he said. “The community has been coming in and getting good value meals.”

I love the ambiance of the place.

And I love the memories it brings back. It takes me back to my childhood and to more recent times when my wife and I were young parents and stopped there with our children.

For others, I’m sure the large menu and reasonable prices are a draw.

“We’ve kept the same prices from like eight years ago,” Alan said. “And we’ve expanded the menu. We’ve got barbecue, Mexican and seafood now.”

The ice cream offering has expanded, too.

“We brought back the flavor of the day,” he said. “Every three days we change the flavor.”

Rockingham Dairy Freez has another reminder of the past. Former owner Tara Kirschenmann is working behind the counter for the Carters.

She said she’s glad the Carters bought the place and glad it’s open again. “I think they’re doing a great job,” she said.

Me, too.

Rockingham Dairy Freez is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Copyright 2012 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This was submitted as a column to North Scott Press.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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An unwelcome change: Historic Tastee Freez closes

Iowa's oldest and only Tastee Freez has closed. Photo from urbanspoon.com.

One thing in life is constant. That’s the fact that things are always changing.

Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it — the one thing in life that never changes is the fact that everything in life is always changing?

Depending on how it affects you, sometimes a particular change is good. Sometimes it isn’t. Often I can see both the good and the bad in a change.

One change I can’t find anything good about is the recently announced closing of a landmark drive-in restaurant in Davenport that was built in 1954.

The Tastee Freez at 3950 Rockingham Road was due to reopen from its winter hibernation in April, but it won’t. The signs have been removed from the building.

Owned by a franchisee from Moline, it was one of the oldest Tastee Freez’s in the country and the last one in Iowa.

A local nostalgia website, captainerniesshowboat.com, calls the Rockingham Tastee Freez an “incredible flashback to the 1950s, time warped as if you never left the decade. It remains an original twin-window walk-up drive-in experience. This is the way that all drive-ins originated, and it is unbelievable that it is still in existence to this day.

“When the store first opened its doors in 1954, it just served soft serve ice cream. A few years later they started serving pop, chips and hot dogs. Today it serves all types of sandwiches and side orders along with Tastee Freez soft serve ice cream.”

My favorite menu item was deep-fried mushrooms and the ranch dressing dip that came with them.

The website says the Rockingham Tastee Freez has had only three owners in its long history. The current owner, Tara Kirshenmann, had operated it since 1993. The owner before her had it for an amazing 38 years.

Located not far from U.S. 61 on Davenport’s west side, the Tastee Freez was a convenient stop for our family as we were driving by, and it was the perfect place to pause for a cool ice cream treat after a youth ballgame on a warm summer night in Davenport.

Customers there ate at one of a couple of picnic tables located outside in front or in their cars.

My wife and I continued to stop in now and then even after our children were grown and gone. The food was good, and the place was a comfortable reminder of times gone by.

I’ve been known to go out of my way to dine there when I was a second-shift newsman at WOC Radio.

One night a WOC co-worker questioned why I’d bought supper at Tastee Freez.

“It was Jumbo Day. You pay for the regular size of your food item, but they give you an extra large,” I explained as he broke into laughter.

He still teases me about Jumbo Day.

“It is one of the greatest pieces of Americana that there is,” captainerniesshowboat.com says of the Rockingham Tastee Freez. Now it’s gone.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

Those of us who loved it have lost the Rockingham Tastee Freez.

Copyright 2012 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This has been submitted as a column to North Scott Press.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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