John Sell comes to H & B’s Hop five or six times each summer. The Norwalk ice cream stand reminds the 58-year-old Willard resident of his “younger days.”
“It’s like a blast from the past to come here,” Sell said.
H & B stands for Heather and Beth Hicks, the daughters of Willard residents Otto and Lewis Hicks. The 296 W. Main Street business, depending on the weather, is open February to November.
“This is the only one we come to. … We have dinner out here and sometimes picnics,” said Norwalk resident Anne Parker, who brings her family about once a week. “They’ve got the best ice cream.”
H & B employee Tracy Trimmer, of Willard, has a favorite menu item: The double bacon cheeseburger, which has been offered since the ice cream stand opened in 1999.
The specialties at Vargo’s Food-n-Fun, 192 Milan Ave., are Coney dogs and sloppy joes.
“Those have been it since I started here,” said employee Julie Shorette, who has worked full-time for the last 17 years. “Those are the only ones around here that are homemade. … I know how to make it and people try to ask me how to make (them) and I say, ‘No. Sorry.’”
Shorette calls the Coney dogs and sloppy joes “family recipes.” She said they are top secret: Only five or six of the 24 Vargo’s employees are in the know. The long-time employee said those workers who are “in the family and been around the longest” are chosen.
“There are only a few of us who know how to make (them) — and that’s how it’s going to stay,” Shorette said pleasantly, yet proudly.
In business since 1966, Vargo’s opens each March through October. Seventeen-year-old Norwalk resident Meg Vaschak said she’s a customer twice a week because it’s convenient and “a bunch of my friends work here.”
In Monroeville, students create a rush time at Twist & Shout every day between 2 and 3 p.m. The 167 Sandusky St. business has had five owners since 1965.
“We do a lot of business from school kids,” employee Megan Osborn said. “Everybody likes our hot dogs.”
She also pointed out the 44 varieties of “unusual” twisters with memorable names such as Bart Simpson, chocolate covered pretzel, Mackinaw Island fudge, Ohio State Buckeye, Pop Tart and White Cow.
“We have a lot of people to check in on our flavor of the week,” Osborn said.
Monroeville customer Cliff Smith not only comes to Twist & Shout at least once a week, the independent contractor worked on the drive-thru that was added in the spring.
“It’s a good location here,” Smith said. “They just have good ice cream. I’m not really a Dairy Queen fan.”
Cathy Meyers, of Castalia, has co-owned Chilly Willy’s with her husband Gary since 2005. The North Monroeville ice cream stand at the intersection of Ohio 99 and Ohio 113, known as Jack’s Frost until 2002, opens from April through September.
“It’s been here for over 40 years. It’s always been an ice cream place,” said Cathy Meyers, who believes Chilly Willy’s has a “homey” atmosphere. “It’s nice to sit and relax (here).”
Chilly Willy’s offers lactose-free soft serve ice cream called Dole Whip. Specialties include a homemade roast beef sandwich with sweet or hot peppers as well as chili dogs.
Students may be some of the regulars at Twist & Shout, but one of the favorite Bellevue customers at Miller’s Drive-In is a dog named Dozer.
Co-owner Jan Miller said the friendly canine, that belongs to a Brinker Street widower, has been coming every day for the last four years. When Dozer arrives, he puts his paws on the counter where employees take customers’ orders.
“He’s pretty much our mascot,” Miller said. “We make him bark to ask for an ice cream cone. We know by the bark it’s a Twist.”
Specialties at the U.S. 20 business include sugar-free/fat-free ice cream and, of course, the Miller Boy — a cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun with lettuce and tomatoes. Miller Boy has been on the menu since 1965, the same year when Miller’s in-laws started the business on the west side of Bellevue.
Miller’s Drive-In typically opens from the end of February until late October.
“People come from all over to get Flurries,” said Miller, who once met a Cleveland salesman in Las Vegas who had been to the drive-in. “He had gotten pumpkin ice cream. We do pumpkin ice cream in the fall.”
In Greenwich, The Green Witch Suds & Sundaes opens in early March and closes sometime in November. The 13 E. Main St. business specializes in chicken tender baskets, foot-long Coney dogs and sundaes.
Owner Mike Meehan believes the ice cream and high-quality food is an attraction for students and travelers. He said it’s a meeting place or “halfway point” for many Greenwich residents.
“A lot of people from Galion … will come up here,” Meehan said.
Appropriately, Oct. 31 is a big event at The Green Witch.
“We celebrate Halloween pretty good here. The girls get dressed up. We give out candy,” Meehan said.