By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — The Dairy Korner has been a fixture in St. Joseph for 60 years and is steeped in tradition.
Today, on Mother’s Day, the ice cream fixture at 1605 Lakeview Ave. re-opens and will introduce a few changes to its customs.
Owner Greg Rood, who bought the business in October, said his main reason for buying the soft serve creamery was the connection he had with his students as a math and science teacher. Having taught in Saugatuck, Benton Harbor and Dowagiac, Rood said he’s a high-energy guy who feeds off the energy of others.
“What happened was I missed that connection with the kids. Without having that energy around, it just hasn’t been the same,” Rood said. “I really wanted to bring back that ice cream parlor charm. It’s always been ice cream on this corner.”
The Benton Harbor resident spent the last few months tearing apart the parking lot, putting in new patio furniture and redoing the awning. Among the changes will be unamplified music on Thursday nights.
The place has always been known for really good soft serve, but in order to get the rest of the market coming to the St. Joseph creamery, Rood said Dairy Korner will introduce custard.
Rood is removing processed food and implementing recycled-paper products. The menu will consist of Angus beef sliders, chicken sliders and Vienna beef dogs. Freshly cut fries, both regular and sweet potato fries, will be offered. Rood said the dessert menu will include vanilla sweet potato fries with caramel dipping sauce.
“We’re making the menu a little bit simpler, but also a little healthier,” Rood said. “We know everyone loves ice cream, but we are trying to be as healthy as we can with the rest of the menu. I hope it keeps people coming back.”
Dairy Korner previously had picnic tables for their outdoor seating. With a new concrete patio, Rood added bistro tables down the side while keeping two picnic tables. Rood has business experience. Growing up in Berrien Springs, he ran a hardware store for 11 years.
With 12 student employees and one manager, Rood said their big push will be for hospitality.
The Dairy Korner will open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week. The season will run from May to Halloween. To end the ice cream season, Rood said he has a special plan for the surrounding community.
“We will close the day before Halloween and then on Halloween we’re going to have a block party to thank our neighborhood for their patronage,” Rood said. “We’ll have treats and face painting at the block party.”
One thing that Rood will stick with when it comes to tradition is planting a tree. Rood said he plants a tree whenever he buys or restores a building,
“The mentality there is if you give back to Mother Nature, then Mother Nature will be good to you,” he said.
Residents can reach the Dairy Korner by calling 983-6185.