Darryl Hebel wants to make your life sweeter. And cooler.
Looking for a second career after being sidelined by an injury in the chemical industry, he decided to venture into his own business. He opened Marie's Ice Cream in April in the Columbia Centre shopping complex (where Schnucks is located, off Illinois 3).
Darryl, of Millstadt, said he was inspired by Happy Days, an ice cream shop in that town.
"I'd be in there and I'd see people coming in and out," he said. They all looked happy when they left.
"It seemed like a common sense move to me and I felt like not only did I need to find a job, but I had to find a niche -- and this was it."
Marie's Ice Cream gets its name from his daughter, Kendra Marie, 18, whose grandmother's middle name also was Marie. Kendra and her brother, Ryan, 16, both work with their dad during the summer.
On a recent weekday afternoon, Darryl, 48, was making homemade waffle cones. The shop sells Cedar Crest ice cream, a premium brand he chose because it is not readily available in the metro-east.
"We have 16 flavors (on display at any given time), but keep about 22 here," he said. "We have 10 regulars and 10 I rotate."
Flavors like Elephant Tracks, Pirates Booty, Zanzibar Chocolate and Coconut Explosion are among the enticing choices. Soft-serve ice cream is also available in vanilla and chocolate.
"The Pirates Booty is our bestseller," said Darryl of the blend of caramel flavor, M&Ms and Oreo Cookie crunch.
"If you love coconut, the Explosion has coconut flakes and almonds. The Zanzibar is triple chocolate."
Youngsters will get a kick out Superman, a three-flavor mix of raspberry, cherry and vanilla ice creams.
Another favorite is Caramel Collision: Vanilla ice cream with "thick ribbons of caramel and mini Rollo cups."
Customers can choose cones, $1.99 to $4.19, depending on hard or soft ice cream and number of scoops. Add 80 cents to 90 cents for a waffle cone.
Also on hand are sundaes, parfaits and concretes ($2.69 to $4.69) and malts and shakes ($3.49 to $4.99, soft and hard ice cream offered). Specialty sundaes are $4.59 and include Turtle, Caramel-Cashew and Strawberry Waffle.
Darryl said that since it's National Ice Cream Month, every day in July kids will get $1 off any item when they wear their youth sports team uniform. On Mondays, get an extra stamp on your Frequent Dipper Card. Tuesdays, anyone 12 and younger who comes in and recites the Pledge of Allegiance gets a free small cone. On Wednesdays, get a free waffle cone with an ice cream purchase. On Thursdays, you get a dollar off any specialty sundae.
Marie's Ice Cream
Location: 1220 Columbia Centre, Columbia, off Illinois 3
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays; to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Handicapped accessible: Yes