[caption id="attachment_494621" align="alignleft" width="300"] Cary Silverstein[/caption]
On the tastiest corner in Scottsdale’s Old Town neighborhood is the Sugar Bowl, an ice cream parlor and restaurant with strong ties to Wisconsin.
For three generations the Huntress family, originally of Whitefish Bay, has served cool treats to thousands of seasonal visitors and residents of Scottsdale, Arizona.
In 1958, Jack Huntress started this business. Then his nephew Carroll, who also grew up in the Bay and eventually went to Arizona State University, bought the business in 1985.
This past year, the Sugar Bowl ownership transitioned to the third generation, Carroll’s son Bob took over and now runs the business.
When you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by a classically uniformed waitress and you are immediately transported back into the 1950s with the pink and white décor and the shiny aluminum stools covered in pink vinyl at the fountain counter. Ice cream sodas, sundaes of every variety are served along with burgers, sandwiches and other treats. There is an adjacent game room, where the younger generation shoots baskets, and indulge in other fun classic arcade games, while enjoying a cone of their favorite flavor of ice cream.
Each year my wife and I winter in Scottsdale, our daughter, nieces, nephews and friends insist we make our annual visit to the Sugar Bowl. During the season, the snowbirds flock to Scottsdale from their northern residences and can be found waiting patiently on benches outside the doors waiting to be ushered into a table or stool.
This icy oasis in the Sonoran Desert was discovered by the award-winning cartoonist, Bill Keane, who lived in nearby Paradise Valley and he featured the Sugar Bowl in a number of his cartoon series, The Family Circus. Many of his original cartoons are mounted on the walls at the checkout counter.
There are other connections to Wisconsin. Carroll Huntress enjoyed curling while living in Wisconsin and took that love with him to Arizona. He started curling with his parents at Riverside Park in Shorewood, at age 10. He is in a local Arizona club that formed after the 2002 Winter Olympics and now has 125 members, many who are from Canada.
So how did Sugar Bowl maintain its position as a destination in Old Town for sweet treats, even though there is a national competitor across the street? Service and quality set them apart from the competition. From my visits and observation, quality, service and consistency drive the business. When you sit at the old-style soda fountain and watch them build a sundae or a banana split, you are transported back into the 1950s. Each tasty delicacy is assembled with care from the nuts, sprinkles, and fresh whipped cream, which is spooned onto sundae and topped with a cherry. As soon as it is served, you can’t wait to dig your spoon in and enjoy the journey.
So, when you tire of the snow, cold and shoveling your driveway, come to Scottsdale and join us in cool treat with ties to Wisconsin.
Cary Silverstein, MBA, is a speaker, author and consultant, a former executive for Gimbel’s Midwest and JH Collectibles, and a former professor for DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.