What’s That Business? Kona IceIn the tradition of the old-fashioned ice cream trucks, the Kona Ice truck started making its rounds in the Duluth area last year.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
What: Kona Ice
Business: In the tradition of the old-fashioned ice cream trucks, the Kona Ice truck started making its rounds in the Duluth area last year, offering up icy tropical treats called Konas. A serving station on the side of the colorful truck allows customers the option to pour the tropical flavors to their shaved ice-in-a-cup themselves. And most do. A portable Tiki kiosk is used for indoor events and events such as Movies in the Park. Kona, its costumed penguin mascot, makes an appearance at some events.
Products: Based on the traditional snow cone, scoops of Kona Ice are served in cups with a choice of 30 flavors, including pina colada, blue raspberry, banana daiquiri, pink lemon sour and tiger’s blood. But Kona’s ice is more gourmet than the traditional ice cone, insists Dino Schinigoi, who runs the Kona Ice operation in Duluth.
“It’s more of a snow than ice, so it absorbs a lot of flavor rather than the juice sinking to the bottom,” Schinigoi said. Premium offerings include Puka root beer and other floats made with frozen sweet cream.
Where: Besides driving around and stopping in neighborhoods like ice cream trucks have done, Kona Ice works special events in the Duluth area, like sports tournaments, company picnics, school reward days, birthday and graduation parties, as well as regular visits to day care centers and assisted living complexes. Neighborhoods near those events are most likely to see the truck drive through for added stops.
When: The business is seasonal, from May to October.
Founded: The family-operated franchise started in 2011, while the Kona Ice chain began with its first outlet in 2007. Today the company has more than 220 franchises in 41 states.
Owner: Tina Risch of Chanhassen, Minn., a stay-at-home mom-turned-entrepreneur.
Local operator: Risch’s brother, Dino Schinigoi of Duluth
How children react: When the truck goes down the street, playing its signature tropical festival music such as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” kids respond.
“Kids come running,” Schinigoi said. “They’re all excited. It’s a real neat kind of thing. Sometimes they dance around the truck. We do have our mascot — a penguin. We have him at several events, and his name is Kona.”
Prices: A small Kona ice is $2; a medium is $3 and a king Kona is $4, which also gets you a Hawaiian lei. Puka floats cost $3, $4 and $5. Packaged ice cream treats cost $2 to $3. Pre-paid $10 Kona cards are also available.
Giving back: On certain days, Kona Ice donates a portion of its proceeds to charitable causes in the Twin Ports area, including the Lake Superior Zoo, Animal Allies and youth sports. Several thousands of dollars were raised last year for charity.
For more information: Call (218) 428-0969 or e-mail email@example.com.
The company’s website should be up soon, listing its upcoming events.