Metro-East Living

Point the car toward Weather Vane Ice Creme for some sweet treats

If you want to be pointed in the right direction for a cold, creamy treat, Jason Brown will be glad to give you directions to his three Weather Vane Ice Creme locations. Two are in Granite City and the third is in Bethalto.

All are on busy streets, where passersby can pull in to enjoy everything from a baseball-size drumstick covered in salted, roasted pecans and smothered in chocolate ($4.50) to Weather Vane’s Iceberg, a thick malt topped with vanilla ice cream ($3.40/$4.40/$5.40).

In between is a big, sweet menu with 25 sundae choices (all with whipped cream and a cherry), such as the S’more a Licious ($5.70) with marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker and chocolate chips. Concretes, shakes, malts, floats, ice creme sodas, Newberry Frozen Yogurt (8 calories per ounce) and more round out the choices.

“We’re working on a new concrete: Salted caramel pretzel,” Jason said with a smile as he worked on machinery at the Bethalto driveup.

Jason and his crew make the vanilla and the chocolate soft-serve “creme” from scratch, but it’s the vanilla that’s an eye-catcher because of its rich, buttery color.

“It’s our own, something that’s been made since 1960,” said Jason. That’s when the first Weather Vane opened on Washington Avenue in Granite City. It and the Bethalto location are seasonal stands that are now open.

Jason worked for the original owners and eventually bought the business from some friends in 1996. He opened the Bethalto site a decade ago.

All three are simple structures with big walk-up windows and menu boards.

The location on Maryville Road in Granite City is the only one that is open year-round and offers drive-up and drive-through breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as ice cream and coffee drinks. “It was all ice cream until 2007,” said Jason, 41, who lives in Granite City. “That’s when I went with food at one location. It’s worked out real well.”

You can try his mom Frances Brown’s Italian Beef recipe ($6) — a big seller along with the deep-fried tacos. An 8-inch four tortilla is filled with beef, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and tomato. Regularly $2.50, on Taco Thursdays, they are just $2.

Half-pound burgers range from Barbecue Bacon ($6.95) to a pizza variety ($6) with pepperoni, mozzarella and pizza sauce. Another hit with customers is the Philly Steak Sandwich. It is pan-seared ribeye steak topped with sauteed green bell peppers, onions and garlic, provolone, mozzarella or spicy Cheddar on a toasted Italian split hoagie roll for $6.

In a hurry for breakfast? Try the Waffle or French Toast Sticks, two for a buck or four for $1.75. Get your biscuits with gravy, chicken or sausage.

Baskets and sides range from Onion Battered Green Beans ($4.50) and Cheddar Breaded Cauliflower ($4.50) to Mini Corndogs ($4.50) and Boneless Buffalo Wings ($4.50).