Sure sign of spring

Dariette is open

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Sharon Gross, of Fort Dodge, became the first customer to purchase ice cream Wednesday at the Dariette shortly after they opened for the season. A previous customer had purchased a gift certificate. Stephanie Salisbury, “ice cream maker extraordinaire”, helps her at the window.

There are several traditional indicators that spring has sprung.

Robins return.

Buds appear on the trees.

Grass turns green.

And the bright red neon “open” sign is lit at the Dariette.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen There might be a foot of snow on the outdoor seating area but the Dariette is now open for the season.

The popular drive-thru ice cream shop at 17 S. 12th St. opened Wednesday morning, though its outdoor seating area still had a foot of snow.

Pete Kapustka, of Fort Dodge, kicked off the season at precisely 11:15 a.m. by buying a gift card.

“It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow,” he said.

He is a gentleman and he would not reveal which birthday.

“It’s a special birthday,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Rich Seltz, co-owner of the Dariette, works on getting one of the ice cream machines up and running Wednesday morning. The popular source of treats opened Wednesday.

Kapustka, like most people, is glad to bid the long winter good-bye.

“Given this winter, yes,” he said. “Anything so I don’t have to scoop.”

Dariette owners Rich and Jo Seltz vary the timing of their opening each year to adjust to the weather.

“I was watching for the temperature to get above freezing,” Rich Seltz said. “My original goal was March 1st. Typically I open by March 15th. I’m always open by the 15th.”

He’s hoping nature takes care of the outdoor seating area.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Rich Seltz, co-owner of the Dariette, dispenses a batch of their lemon custard ice cream Wednesday morning. The recipe is a closely guarded secret.

“It’s all drive-through right now,” he said. “With the warm temperatures by this weekend, hopefully we’ll have the patio open.”

He, too, is sick of winter.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

That glowing “open” sign might help, though.

“It gets everyone in the mood,” he said. “Once they see the Dariette is open, spring is here.”

Jo Seltz looked out the window at the snow.

“It doesn’t look much like spring,” she said.

They had a friendly discussion about opening.

“I said it’s time to open,” he said.

“I’m going to be that little groundhog that says six more weeks,” she joked.

Sharon Gross, of Fort Dodge, became the first customer of the season to order ice cream.

“I’ve waited all winter,” she said. “I ordered two quarts. When I come back, I’m going to get a cone to eat on the way home.”

She said her grandchildren will be helping her enjoy the ice cream. She added that it isn’t expected to be around very long once the spoons and bowls come out.

“They don’t last that long,” she said.

Wednesday’s startup included the Dariette’s signature lemon custard flavor.

Rich Seltz said it’s a secret recipe.

“Others think that they have the recipe, but they don’t,” he said. “It’s handed down from owner to owner.”

He also recognized the upcoming celebration of all that’s Irish.

“Our special flavor is mint for St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.