Remember the ice cream shop called Cone Castle located at 5 Fir St. overlooking Bower Ponds?
It used to one of my family’s favourite places to go for treat after a long bike trip, post paddle boat ride or during a weekend picnic. Then we would go in for ice cream and spend endless time on deciding which flavours to choose from.
Feeling a little bit nostalgic, my husband and I recently went in and discovered that not only does the Cone Castle have a new owner but whole new menu!
Originally from B.C., Peggy Bittorf, the owner of Cone Castle, worked for an ice cream company for 14 years. Wanting to be closer to her daughter living in Red Deer, Bittorf was looking for a business opportunity in the city. “When I heard from one of my customers that an ice cream shop was coming up for sale, I didn’t think twice about taking ownership,” explains Bittorf.
Although she continued to sell milkshakes, sundaes, and varieties of ice creams, Bittorf quickly realized that to appeal to customers all year round she needed to add more to her newly-acquired shop.
“Besides the Bower Ponds, there really isn’t anything else to draw people to the area,” explained Bittorf.
Taking some time to understand the locals, Bittorf quickly learned that her menu needed to include homemade items, goodies from already established distributors and something unique and exclusive that offered an excuse for people to come in.
In addition to the cold treats, Cone Castle’s menu now includes light meals with homemade chilies, soups, and sandwiches for people who want a quick bite and a change from fast food chain restaurants. It also serves Pearson’s Berry Farm’s famous butter tarts and varieties of cupcakes brought in from Scratch Homemade Cakes and Sweets. Her “unique” addition was her homemade pies in which both the crust and the filling are made from scratch.
Her love for creating the treat is apparent by the variety of pies that are available at the store; peanut butter apple, pear praline bumbleberry, lemon meringue and cranberry apple are just a few that are displayed in the see through case, wooing the customers. “You can have a slice at the shop or take a whole pie to share with family, friends and co-workers,” suggests Bittorf.
Walking into the shop, it is somewhat reminiscent of an authentic ice cream parlor; the walls are painted with amusing candy cane coloured red and white stripes while the decorations are all fanciful with mismatched glassware and intriguing decor that Bittorf has collected. The walls have portraits that have been refurbished and antiques pieces which Bittorf has acquired over the years. Individually, each piece seems ordinary but somehow Bittorf has brought them all together to bring out the fun feeling that you experience when you enter.
Seating is very casual with three family-style dining tables in the centre of the shop lined with intimate booths for two on the side. There is a table with toddler toys waiting for a little person who eats faster than the rest of the family and requires some distraction while the rest of the family continues to leisurely enjoy their meal. The booths for two seem ideal for “everyday romance” where you spontaneously take that special someone to share an intimate cup of coffee or simple lunch with.
Because of its casual and somewhat whimsical decor, the Cone Castle is an ideal place to host special occasion. With the menu featuring foods like hot dogs, macaroni and tacos in a bag, it is the perfect venue for kids’ birthday parties. To add an activity to the party, Cone Castle also offers “make your own sundaes parties,” “an event that is enjoyed by kids of all ages,” explains Bittorf.
Another event that Cone Castle has hosted is a Victorian tea party where tea is served in delicate teacups — of course, with it comes some fresh baked goodies, just like the timed tradition. By offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate and hot cider it appeals to mother-daughter(s), sisters, friends reuniting or ladies who just can’t get enough of slow, leisurely days.
To get reacquainted with old Cone Castle, you can join Bittorf on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @ConeCastle1, where she is enticing customers with food pictures of hot chillies nestled in a warm bread bowl, fresh piping hot soups and homemade pies that glisten, ooze and create cravings that can only be satisfied when you take a trip to the north end of town!
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @madhubadoni. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com.