DUPONT — A vacant lot is now home to the newest attraction in Dupont.
Choo Choo’s Ice Cream recently opened its doors at 434 Main St. and will hold a grand opening celebration all day Saturday, June 25. The new business is the brainchild of the Banellis family of Pittston. The frozen treat establishment offers everything from soft and hard ice cream to ice cream cakes, milk shakes, smoothies, yogurt and much more.
The owners — Angela Banellis, along with husband Paul Banellis and Paul’s brother Bob Banellis — started working on the idea several years ago. The lot was home to Paul’s trucking business prior to its conversion to the ice cream parlor.
The first-time ice cream shop owners have had positive reviews thus far.
“We’re new to this business, so it’s a little learning curve but we’re doing OK,” Paul said. “Basically we’re all rookies.”
The business’ namesake comes from the railroad tracks that sit just several feet from the building. The building was created to mimic a train station from years past. Angela has always thought it would be a great place for an ice cream parlor.
“What a great place for an ice cream stand,” said Angela, who is a nurse by trade. “We can make it look like a train station. It’s quite simple and that was how it was born.”
So far, business is booming, the family said. According to the family, at least 6,500 cars pass the business each day. That traffic study was done several years ago.
“It’s a high-traffic area and we have a lot of walk-up customers,” Bob said. “We’re pretty far from the other ice cream places here and we have the theme.”
Choo Choo’s gets most of its ice cream from Blue Ribbon Dairy in West Pittston. Over the past several months, the family has traveled across the country tasting the best soft-served ice cream. They said Blue Ribbon is easy to work with and the product speaks for itself.
One thing that sets Choo Choo’s apart from many of the other ice cream parlors in the region is its Dole Whip ice cream, also known as Dole Soft Serve, which is a fruit-based soft serve ice cream mixed with water. Dole Whip was made famous at Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the early 1990s.
The grand opening will feature many specials, prizes and entertainment. The property offers seating for dozens of people, and the family plans to continue work on the property to benefit the customers. Currently, there are several picnic tables with umbrellas.
As far as controlling the diet associated with owning an ice cream shop, the family still enjoys a scoop or two every now and then.
“I haven’t lost my taste for it,” Paul said. “Yesterday I came here and had a sundae for lunch.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-602-0178 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick