Tony Chambers thought he was getting too old to operate a mowing and snowplowing business, so he opened Snowie Sweet Treats in Belleville this spring.
The 55-year-old St. Louis man figured he couldn’t go wrong selling soft-serve ice cream, concretes, doughnuts and shaved ice.
“This is America,” he said. “We like sugar.”
Chambers has traded physical labor for long hours, but he doesn’t mind.
Seven days a week, he stops by Pharaoh’s Donuts in downtown St. Louis to pick up freshly baked doughnuts, including glazed, custard, jelly, red velvet, blueberry and crumb cake, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and long Johns.
“These are some of the best doughnuts in the area,” he said.
After the doughnut run, Chambers drives to Belleville and starts brewing coffee in time for his 6 a.m. opening at Snowie, which occupies a storefront in a small strip mall at 8205 W. Main St.
As the day progresses, customer demand switches from doughnuts to soft-serve ice cream. Snowie always has vanilla, and it rotates between strawberry, chocolate and pineapple ($2 a pint).
Also on the menu are 40 flavors of shaved ice ($2 small or $3 large) and 10 concretes, including M&M, Reese’s Cups, Snickers, cookie dough, chocolate-chip mint, Nestle Crunch, Oreo, Butterfinger, brownie pieces and Heath Bar ($2.50 to $5.25).
“We come here every day because its affordable and it’s yummy,” said Alyssa Hardt, 10, who lives in the neighborhood.
“It’s fun to come here, and I like their soft-serve ice cream,” said her friend, Amila Lewis, 11. “And (the owner is) really chill.”
The girls are such regular customers that Chambers gave them Snowie T-shirts.
Donna Johnson, 70, of Belleville, and her friend, Pam Ballard, 71, of Swansea, tried Snowie for the first time last week after seeing a Facebook post about it.
Johnson ordered the blue-raspberry shaved ice while Ballard went for strawberry soft-serve. They were happy with both the taste and prices.
“I’ve never heard of a doughnut with ice cream on it, but that sounds good, too,” Ballard said.
Snowie customers can sit at tables or booths inside or concrete tables with benches outside. Chambers has been closing at 8 p.m., but he plans to stay open until 10 p.m. most of the summer.
“Everyone has been so welcoming,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘We’re happy you’re here.’ They really want you to succeed.”
Chambers managed restaurants and grocery stores before starting his lawn-care business 10 years ago. He often drove down West Main Street in Belleville while taking care of Family Dollar properties in the metro-east.
One day, Chambers noticed that Scoops Ice Cream Shop had closed in the strip mall, and that gave him the idea to open Snowie.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s an easy business. It’s a happy business. People don’t complain about sugar.”
Sugarfire in Edwardsville
Sugarfire Smoke House will open its 13th location on June 5, becoming the first tenant in Edwardsville’s new Ironworks strip mall.
It will join the St. Louis-based restaurant chain’s establishment in O’Fallon as the only ones in the metro-east.
Sugarfire is known for its barbecue beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, signature sandwiches and sides, according to a press release. It also serves daily specials with locally grown produce and meats that are announced on social media each morning, as well as salads, housemade cookies and pies, local craft beers and milkshakes.
The restaurant will be known as “Sugarfire Eddy.” It will seat about 85 people inside and another 40 on the patio, which will allow “open ordering” with neighbor Global Brew and feature TVs, music and cornhole boards.
The Edwardsville location will open at 11 a.m. June 5 at 2323 Plum Street, Suite 100. Inside the door is a 360-degree, “shake and beer” bar, constructed from a shipping container, where customers can get beer, shakes, sodas and other drinks prior to entering an “ordering queue.”
Seating consists of high and low benches, stools and chairs. People in larger groups can sit at long, community-style tables or eight-person booths crafted by Next Level Metal and outfitted with personal, 27-inch TV sets.
Hours at Sugarfire will be 11 a.m. until the barbecue is sold out, seven days a week. On opening day, customers will have a chance to win a Yeti cooler full of Sugarfire swag, barbecue products and gift cards.