Malaika and William Chavous knew metro-east residents would like Philly-style water ice, but they didn’t expect to get so busy, so fast.
Business was booming at TC’s Treats in O’Fallon on a recent Monday evening. Customer Connie Nolan was so impressed, she came back in from the parking lot to find the owners.
“I just want to tell you that was awesome,” she said. “Next time I’m going to get a large.”
Connie, 65, of Fort Meyers, Fla., was visiting her daughter’s family in O’Fallon. She got a small cup of water ice, one scoop of watermelon and one scoop of root beer.
“I didn’t mix them,” she said, laughing. “I tasted my daughter’s piña colada, and next time, I want to get that and watermelon.”
The Chavouses opened TC’s Treats on April 8 in a small frame building on U.S. 50 with umbrella tables outside. It’s named after their granddaughter, Ty Ivy, 3, and grandson, Coy Ivy Jr., 2.
Water ice, also known as Italian ice, is a sweetened, flavored dessert made with a process similar to ice cream. Ingredients are frozen while being mixed.
It’s not shaved ice that is flavored. It’s not liquidy like a slushy or granular like a snow cone.
“It’s kind of like a sherbert,” said William, 51, of O’Fallon. “It has no dairy in it. It’s lactose-free, soy-free and gluten-free, so it won’t bother anybody who has those allergies.”
The Chavouses use real fruit in fruit-flavored options, including banana, sour green apple, strawberry, watermelon, blueberry lemonade, cherry, grape, lemon, mango, peach, pineapple and blue raspberry.
“Mix-ins” range from walnuts to mint chips, pretzels to Oreo cookies, gummy bears to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A “monster’s mix” combines flavors left over at any given time.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” said Malaika, 45.
Water ice comes on regular or waffle cones or in a cup. It’s priced by the scoop, ranging from $1.99 for one to $4.50 for four.
TC’s Treats also serves ice cream — vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan, strawberry, Neapolitan, cookie dough or cookies and cream. It can be topped with caramel, butterscotch or chocolate syrup or layered with scoops of water ice.
“It’s premium ice cream,” Malaika said. “We make it ourselves. We try to use the highest-quality ingredients.”
The Chavouses are busy people. Both have full-time jobs. Malaika is a Humana project manager. William drives a forklift at a U.S. Postal Service facility in Hazelwood, Mo.
They operate TC’s Treats on weeknights and Saturdays with help from daughter Brittany Ivy, 27, son Timothy Chavous, 25, son Wesley Staten, 21, and their families, also known as “Team Chavous.”
Another key player is Raheme “Roc” Bass, 37, of O’Fallon, William’s longtime friend who moved from the East Coast.
“I wave, I dance, I talk to people ...” Roc said. “This is not just a place to come and buy water ice. We want to get to know our customers. It’s a family atmosphere.”
The roots of the business go back to the late 2000s, when the Chavouses went to visit William’s family. He was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey.
“Water ice is really big out there, and I told my wife, ‘You really need to try this,’” he said. Malaika promptly replied, ‘I don’t like snow cones. No thank you.’”
But after one serving, she was hooked.
The couple talked about introducing water ice in the metro-east but never acted on the idea until after a second trip to New Jersey. A man standing in line at Rita’s Italian Ice encouraged them to “go for it.”
The Chavouses started the business in 2015 by setting up a push cart, white canopy and folding tables at outdoor events, such as the St. Louis Art Fair in Clayton, Mo., and St. Louis Ribfest.
“People kept asking us, ‘Where can you get this?’ ‘Where’s your store?’” Malaika said. “One day, we woke up, and my husband said, ‘Let’s open a store.’ And I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ We prayed about it and asked the Lord to give us vision and strategy, and here we are.”
One of their return customers on Monday was Tyler Stahl, 17, of Belleville, who brought two of his friends to try water ice.
Maurah Bridges, of Troy, got blue raspberry and banana. Hugh Greentree, of O’Fallon, went for strawberry. Tyler had four scoops — cherry, strawberry, pineapple and sour green apple.
“It was amazing,” he said. “The texture, the flavor. It tastes like real fruit because it is real fruit.”
The Chavouses eventually would like to offer more treats and open more stores. In the meantime, they’re just “stepping out in faith and trying to grow the business,” Malaika said.
“Our ultimate goal as a couple and as entrepreneurs is to honor God first, then bless our family and then bless other people.”
At a glance
- What: TC’s Treats
- Where: 506 W. Highway 50 in O’Fallon
- Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays April through October
- Seating: Four inside and 16 on patio
- Handicapped accessible: Yes
- Delivery: Scheduled deliveries only with minimum of two days a week
- Information: Call 618-607-0028 or visit www.tctreat.com or the Facebook page