A business, Grand Avenue Ice Hole, in Cherokee, Oklahoma, is owned by an Alfalfa Electric Cooperative employee Thomas Wessels and his wife, Adrienne. Several years ago, Thomas and Adrienne were leaving Bass Pro in Oklahoma City. Outside they purchased snow cones, which led to a conversation about how there had been snow cone places in Cherokee in years past. The couple joked about how they should open a snow cone place of their own.
Kyle and Kendra Puffinbarger had also been tinkering with the idea of a snow cone business. One night when the two couples were together, the snow cone idea surfaced. After a discussion, they decided to go into business together. A short time later, they saw a snow cone machine listed on an online auction. They bought the machine, and the two couples began planning for the new business in Cherokee.
As I gathered the information for this article, I discovered quite a list of owners of the snow cone machine itself. As far as I could establish, the historical snow cone machine first belonged to Bruce Goodno. After a few years, Bruce sold it to Cindy Schanbacher. Cindy sold it to Jamie McAlister, who later sold it to Mike Jantz. After about five years of selling snow cones, Mike tried to sell the business without success. So, he listed just the snow cone machine on an online auction. That is when the snow cone machine landed in its current location.
Thomas and his dad Everett built the building next to the Wessel home. So, with the structure built, they now needed an ice machine. Thomas checked into buying an ice block machine. After seeing how expensive it was, he decided he could probably build one. With his knowledge of refrigeration, he made the first machine out of spare parts that he could find.
For two years, they had to haul 15-18 pound blocks of ice out of their basement. They were averaging 25 blocks a week. That got old in a hurry. It was then that he decided to build a shop with a kitchen just for the ice machine. Thomas then designed a new ice machine. This system had a geothermal chiller to make chilled water that used food-grade propylene glycol circulation to freeze the ice. This was much more efficient and cost-effective.
Adrienne, her mom Diana and Kendra ran the snow cone business for the first year. Later, they began hiring high school girls and a few college girls. Michelle Kimminau also helped and still does. She just enjoys the environment, so she has continued to help out.
As of a few years ago, Thomas and Adrienne are the sole owners of The Grand Avenue Ice Hole. It is open Monday through Friday from 2:00 to 8:00. Gift certificates are available – a perfect gift for any age. There are over 65 flavors available with several specialties and many toppings, all of which go well with a “touch of cream.”
Thomas and Adrienne have a four-year-old son, Jake (Jakey), and a one-year-old daughter, Blakely. Adrienne shared that Jakey is already involved in the family business. On many days/nights, he can be heard calling out, “Snow cones for sale!”
Although the Grand Avenue Ice Hole is located in Cherokee, customers come from other towns. One customer even comes from Kansas to enjoy the old-fashion snow cones. If you haven’t enjoyed these snow cones yet, now is the time to venture on down and try one. You will see what has kept snow cones going in Cherokee for many years and, hopefully, many years to come.