TMulti-digit temperatures have arrived, but there’s an increasingly popular way to enjoy a frozen treat without the tablespoons of sugar that could leave you fresher but guilty.
You may have seen the Kona Ice truck in town – its bright lights, tiki hut roof, and music are a familiar presence at local sporting events, businesses, schools, and fundraisers.
Married couple Chris and Karrie Reaney have worked in the shaved ice business for about four years. Chris franchised the first mobile ice cream truck, and later the couple added two more trucks to the tally.
Their growing popularity is twofold: they offer a unique product and they are constantly involved in giving back to the community.
Unlike many frozen treats, the Hawaiian shaved ice offered by Kona is much finer in texture than, say, a snow cone, and the sweetener Chris and Karrie used – Vitablend – uses stevia and sugar. ‘agave instead of refined sugar.
“A lot of parents we identify with might think something like this has too much sugar, but we didn’t want to go that route,” Karrie said. “We decided we wanted a healthier alternative.”
Chris says 25 percent of the vitamins and minerals a child needs every day, including vitamins C and D, as well as antioxidants, are included in a cup of Kona Ice.
But healthier doesn’t mean less fun.
The Kona Ice Truck is designed to be interactive, allowing customers to choose their own concoction from around 30-40 different flavors.
“We give them the cup of crushed ice, and they are able to create their own flavor,” Karrie said. “If they want to mix the flavors from the taps, they can too.”
As well-known as their product has become, so is Chris and Karrie’s reputation in the community. Of their sales, they typically donate 20 to 30 percent to various organizations, helping fund things like Downtown Second Saturdays, Tucson Youth Sports, Movies in the Park, the Tucson Children’s Miracle Network. and the list goes on and on.
“Everyone who buys their own franchise has their own idea of how they want to run it,” Karrie said. “We’ve both served on many charitable boards, so naturally we’re big supporters of the community. It is important to teach our next generation to give – donate the hours but also, sometimes the money to support the various causes out there.
Chris and Karrie, who both have full-time careers in addition to running Kona Ice Trucks, have so far donated around $ 5,000 this year and have also donated a number of free shaved ice cones at various events.
Yet the success of their franchises depends on persistence, especially in the beginning.
“One thing I tell people looking to get in is that it takes two to three years to get the critical mass to make money,” Chris said. “Don’t think that this is something you can start tomorrow and make a lot of money – you have to take the time to train employees, develop customers and plan events.
“You have to put in the time to be successful. “
To schedule an event with Kona Ice, email [email protected]