WALLINGFORD — Doreen’s Drive In may have closed for good last season, but fans of its ice cream need not worry too much, as Kelly’s Snack Shack plans to take up the creamie mantle.
Ron and Kelly Shaw said Monday they bought the Doreen’s Drive In business in January. They’ve changed the name to Kelly’s Snack Shack, but are working to keep everything else more or less the same.
The Shaws also own Shaw’s Sales and Service, an auto dealer located at 723 Route 7, just north of Cumberland Farms. Ron said he’s owned the car business for 36 years. For the past 13, the property has hosted Doreen’s Drive In, formerly owned by Doreen and Robert Williams.
“I let her in here because she brought a lot of traffic,” said Ron Shaw. “On nicer days I’d go by and there’d be people eating ice cream cones and looking at cars at the same time. It was good for the town, the town people loved it, I hate to see it go away.”
Opening day for Kelly’s Snack Shack was Saturday, and the family reports it was a solid start.
“My ice cream people, this wasn’t their first rodeo, and by Sunday we were doing a fabulous job. It’s a learning curve. I bet we waited on 250 people yesterday, and it was better than that on Saturday,” said Shaw.
The Shaws said they don’t have much, if any, experience in the food industry, but the employees they’ve hired do, and Doreen Williams has also been mentoring them.
“Neither one of us has been in the food business, so it can be overwhelming when you see the lines,” said Kelly Shaw. “I think at one point we had 10 or 12 orders all lined up on Saturday. We just have to get into the groove of things and find the right way to do things so everything is going out the window hot and fast.”
She said Saturday was tough, but that night after she got home she thought of a number of things that could be done to improve efficiency.
“Even setup of where we have containers and things like that, it makes a difference when everything is handy and organized it runs a lot smoother,” she said. “I think yesterday we got a little more organized.” Their plan is to be open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., shutting the grill down at 8:30 p.m.
Ron said ice cream is what really seemed to draw people to Doreen’s, and Kelly’s Snack Shack means to carry that on.
“You wouldn’t believe the people that are coming out of Rutland,” he said. “Doreen was known to have the best ice cream around, and we kept the same ice cream. I’ve got friends who live across from snack bars in Rutland and they were here twice this weekend, both days.” He said Williams has also been helpful teaching the Shaws about state permitting and other regulatory requirements. Ron said they had to get several permits just to sell ice cream, and while they heard from others that Vermont health inspectors are tough, their first inspection was passed with top marks.
“Doreen has been wonderful, too,” said Kelly. “She came down and talked to us and explained what she did, so we were doing the same serving amounts that she was, whether it’s French fries or ice cream or onion rings. She went over all of that with us so we’ve been trying to do the same thing she did.”
Attempts to reach Williams on Monday weren’t successful.
Ron Shaw said Wallingford has become something of a destination for diners these days.
“There’s some food here in town now, there’s the Victorian Inn, Sal’s, Thoroughbreads, a lot of people have been coming to Wallingford to eat,” he said. “You should see the streets some nights in town.”