Family set to return to ice cream roots in Oneonta

Allison CollinsFrom left, Jayden, Hailey and Tyler Zakala, Shultis’ grandchildren, stand with parents, Nathan and Sarah, alongside Dorothy and Larry Shultis at Adaline Ice Cream in Oneonta.

Oneonta native Larry Shultis is churning up a sweet comeback.

Shultis, who decades ago owned Polar Bear Ice Cream in Oneonta, plans to launch Adaline Ice Cream in early August. Shultis will operate the 478 Main St., Oneonta, site with his wife, Dorothy, and their adult daughter, Sarah Zakala, and her husband, Nathan.

“Back in 1979, my wife and I bought the old Polar Bear building on Main Street,” Shultis said. “It had been closed for two or three years, so we bought it, remodeled it and refurbished it, then opened that and had it until 1988.

“We’ve done other things since then,” he continued, “but I’m 70 and still working and was thinking about what I want to do next. I always wanted to start another business, for the last 10 or so years, and finally my daughter said she and her husband would like to do something, too. We found this building and said, ‘OK, let’s do another ice-cream business.’”

The business, Shultis said, pays homage to his family and its predecessor.

“(The original business) was named after our firstborn: Adaline Ice Cream, doing business as Polar Bear,” he said. “We decided to bring that back and keep that as the name.”

The Shultises purchased the property roughly two years ago, he said.

“It was a long process, because (the building) had been gutted and there was no floor in it,” Shultis said. “It was originally a gas station owned by Ed Hughes and we’ve tried to stay true to what the building was, so it looks like a gas station, only without the pumps. We’re still working on it.

“We’re putting benches under the portico and we have a few chairs and small tables,” he continued. “We will have outside seating and, once it’s allowed, we have a couple of tables inside and there will be a bar by the windows with stools.”

Shultis said he’s eager to get back behind the ice-cream counter.

“I like dealing with people and the retail thing of it, where people come in and talk and you make them happy because it’s a happy food,” he said. “It’s a good small business and something I know how to do.”

The ice cream, Shultis said, will be nostalgic for some and, he hopes, a newfound favorite for others.

“With the machines we got, we’ll be making our own ice cream again and trying to come up with new and different flavors for people,” he said. “We don’t call it homemade; we call it old-fashioned. We get a mix from a dairy, then add the flavorings and ingredients. When you first make it that way, you can scoop it, but it’s a soft consistency. That’s the way we did it in the '80s and, once people tried it, they liked it, so hopefully they will again this time.”

Adaline Ice Cream, Shultis said, will offer sundaes, shakes and cones, as well as ice-cream cakes and ice-cream pies. Eventually, Shultis said, he hopes to also offer party packages that “people can order online and just stop in and pick up, with the ice cream, toppings and all the stuff.”

Shultis said he plans to operate from March through November, though may offer party package pickup through winter.

News of an East End ice-cream spot, Shultis said, has generated enthusiasm.

“We lost Friendly’s, so we’re the only thing in the East End and people are excited,” he said. “The people that know us … loved our ice cream and new people that walk by are saying, ‘When are you going to open? We love that you’re in the neighborhood.’ They’re looking forward to it.”

Once established, Shultis said, he anticipates expanding that clientele.

“The plan is to reach out to the baseball people that come in and we had a big following with the colleges back with our other place,” he said. “We hope to do that again, so it’s not just locals, but we’re hoping to hit tourists and college students, too.”

For more information and updates on opening, find “Adaline Ice Cream” on Facebook.

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