Story by Keith Wren (the Owner) and his family
The Wren family has been making premium ice cream since 1973. Our original store was located in the Lockland-Reading, OH area. It was small in comparison to The Cone but served a combination of sandwiches and ice cream.
My parents, Ken and Louella, worked very long hours developing a strong customer following. Customers would drive great distances to get our nearly famous soft-serve orange and vanilla swirl cone or one of our footlong cheese coneys! Sadly, my mom, Louella, passed away on January 5, 2019, at the age of 80 and on April 2, 2021, my dad, Ken, passed away at the age of 83.
When my father, Ken, was a child he helped fill the ice cream machinery where his sister worked because they could not lift the heavy containers. From that time on, he dreamed of having an ice cream store of his own.
The whole family was involved from the beginning of following my dad’s dream. My mother ran the store during the day with my dad’s help. I worked there starting at age 14, my brother Kyle started at age 12, and my younger sister Tricia started going to the family ice cream store when she was a baby (sleeping in an empty cone box).
Eventually, I became interested in building a new ice cream store in West Chester. We wanted something different and we found it in Florida. My mom and dad were on vacation and spotted a Cone building up for sale. We drove down the next week to buy it and haul it back to Ohio.
There were many delays because of the unusual undertaking of building a non-traditional programmatic building. My father, father-in-law, and I worked very hard to erect The Cone. My father-in-law, James Sies, was very strong and was pretty much the muscle we needed to put things together. Sadly, James passed away a few years after we opened The Cone.
The Cone Opens!
In July of 1995, The Cone opened its doors for the first time. We had one cash register but found out the first week that we needed to order another one! From the beginning, the eye-catching building brought families from the greater Cincinnati area.
We put a very strong emphasis on family FUN. Over the years we have added a large awning over a number of our outdoor tables, kiddie rides in an enclosed area, and an outside mural in addition to the one in our dining room. Families and friends often gather in this comfortable environment to talk and share a cone. It has become a landmark that brings the community closer together.
Our #1 selling flavor is our Orange & Vanilla Swirl, which has the same recipe as it did in 1973.
We added new ice cream machines that enabled us to sell soft-serve Conemade strawberry ice cream made with REAL strawberries and NO artificial flavor! Our concept is to provide the best tasting ice cream and related products in a clean, safe family environment.
The Cow Truck Arrives
Yes, it played music and even mooed as it drove around town!
The Cow Truck was retired in 2017.
The Cone addition is finally completed
This enabled us to have 3 more ice cream machines. The addition also includes another window to serve our guests even more quickly. The room was designed to one day open up a drive-thru.
The Mobile Cone arrives
We had been searching for several years for a concession trailer shaped like The Cone and finally found one in Louisiana. Towing it back to Ohio with the Cow Truck was quite an adventure, especially since we didn’t know its exact height and 14 ft. underpasses looked quite low!
After major renovations, The Mobile Cone appeared at its inaugural event, St. Max’s festival, in June. Off to a great start, the Mobile Cone participated in ten other events that season. By expanding to school and corporate events, the Mobile Cone participated in sixty events during the 2007 season, serving ice cream cones, shave ice, and sometimes even sundaes to appreciative customers. Our largest event by far has been the Riverfest WEBN Fireworks these past several years with approximately 500,000 people in attendance!
Update: By 2019, our Mobile Units were participating in an average of 300 events/season.
The Drive-Thru opens
On March 29, our long-awaited drive-thru finally opened and was a huge success! No more leaving your car when it’s too cold, too hot, too rainy, your little one is asleep in the car seat, or you need to be very quick as your employees think you’re out on sales calls. (Ask a local bank manager about that one.)
Update: Our double-lane drive-thru holds 30 cars at a time… 40 for special events when we open up a third lane.
In 2020 we had 8 lanes of drive-thru at the beginning of the season due to the pandemic. Throughout the season we regularly have 6 lanes of drive-thru traffic and we used a carhop system to help speed things up. Our drive-thru got quite the workout!
The Game Room is Under Construction
When completed, it would hold approximately 11 arcade games, geared mainly toward children, with several family-friendly games for adults. In addition, many new kiddie rides arrived & that would be available in our enclosed outdoor area.
The Game Room is complete
We had 5 pinball machines, Pacman, Galaga, 15 kiddie rides, and much more!
Two More Mobile Cones Added
With three mobile units, we can run multiple events simultaneously.
Pinside and Penny Press
We now belong to Pinside which is a global group for finding places to play pinball. We have also added a Penny Press that produces 4 souvenir pennies.
Electronic Loyalty Cards
We now offer electronic loyalty cards that build points every time you make a purchase at The Cone. Free items and offers get better and better with your growing point level. This program was discontinued.
New Drive-Thru Menu
We added a giant state-of-the-art drive-thru menu board to help make it easier for our customers to order from our expansive selection of items.
We added Hawaiian Five-OH to our company. They are the company that has made the delicious all-natural flavors that we use for our shave ice. With this addition, we also added two more mobile units to provide an option for shave ice only to our concession trailers.