Dropping by a shop that specializes in ice cream is a summertime pleasure that appeals to children and adults alike.
For many years visiting ice cream vendors headquartered at 11 S. 16th St. - the corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue - has been part of the obligatory hot-weather experience for many Fort Dodgers. That venue changed ownership this year. It still offers an extensive array of ice cream treats but the new proprietors - Jeff Hart and Elaine Ramirez - have introduced a completely revised menu.
The new name - Jethro's Ice Cream & Grub - serves notice that the cuisine will be a departure from standard ice cream stand fare.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Elaine Ramirez, co-owner of Jethro’s Ice Cream & Grub, 11 S. 16th St., displays a sample of her signature Critter Platter and Critter Shake.
"We have something a little different," said Ramirez, who is also the on-site manager for this new venture. She said in addition to soft serve ice cream - available in at least a dozen flavors - there is Mexican food and an assortment of choices with names recalling the "Beverly Hillbillies" television show popular decades ago - "Grannie's Treats," "Jedd's Sundaes," "Ellie Mae Storms" and "Grandpa's Appetizers."
"We do a taco line," Ramirez said. "Anywhere from hard to soft shell tacos. I think a taco line for an ice cream place is a little different. I'm getting good feedback on it, and I hope that continues."
She said a variety of innovative options have been crafted. One of those is called the Critter Platter. That consists of a hard shell taco, beef burrito, beans and chips.
"We call ourselves home to the Critter Shake," Ramirez said. "Our signature item is our Critter Shake. It is vanilla ice cream, marshmallow cream and Fruity Pebbles - a cereal. Basically, it is a little crunchy, a little sweet and a little thick."
She said the response to that unusual offering has been very positive.
"A lot of the younger ones do like it a lot," Ramirez said. "That's going over very well."
The food choices at Jethro's are numerous and diverse.
On the ice cream front, there are shakes and malts, parfaits and floats. Also available are tacos, burritos, burgers, nachos and hot dogs.
"I just started doing Nathan's hot dogs," Ramirez said.
She provides a strong personal endorsement to that tasty selection.
"I love Nathan's hot dogs," Ramirez said.
Not in the mood for ice cream, Mexican food or a hot dog? Jethro's has other possibilities that may satisfy.
"We do have one other unique thing also, and that is a pulled pork sandwich," Ramirez said. "We call it our Jethro Bodine pulled pork sandwich."
In the days ahead, more refinements to the menu are planned.
"We will eventually have daily lunch specials, that kind of thing," Ramirez said.
Quick service and convenience are at the heart of marketing plan at Jethro's. There is a drive through window to serve customers on the go. Those who simply want to relax while enjoying a meal, snack or treat will find the establishment's six shaded picnic tables welcoming.
"I'm finding that they are coming and getting food and drink and ice cream and sitting here," Ramirez said. "We've got games they play. I have music that plays outside during the evenings."
She said Jethro's custom-made bean toss games have proved popular both with kids and their parents.
Jethro's is open from April through October. The hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Meet the owners
Jeff Hart also owns Harty's Caddy Shack Cafe, 1101 Central Ave. That eatery opened in 2011. He helps out at Jethro's but most of his time is devoted to the cafe.
Ramirez, the driving force at Jethro's, graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1988. She said she is enjoying building this new business from the ground up.
"I've put my heart and soul into it," she said. "I want the food to taste good. I want customers to like it. And I want them to come back."
Ramirez said establishing a new business is a lot of work, but she is finding being at the helm of Jethro's very satisfying.
"We love doing this," she said. "We want everybody to give us a try. We really take pride in making our stuff good. We want you to like it, obviously."