We all scream for ice cream

Jennifer Jones and Steve Jones, owners of Pop’s Ice Cream, have set up shop at 475 Park Ave., in downtown Idaho Falls. They are banking on the large amount of people flocking downtown to events and enjoying a day by the river this summer to drive business. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Jennifer Jones scoops up playdough ice cream at Pop’s Ice Cream on Thursday. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Pop’s Ice Cream Shop is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. To learn more about the shop, contact Jennifer Jones at 208-206-1261.

When Steve and Jennifer Jones stumbled upon a vacant storefront in downtown Idaho Falls, they thought of a sweet opportunity — an ice cream parlor.

What resulted was the fast track to a new business for the Jones family. The couple acquired the space at 475 Park Ave., in March, and two months later Pop’s Ice Cream Shop opened its doors.

“We talked about opening up an ice cream place for a couple of years, and when the space became open we decided to go for it,” Jennifer Jones said.

Featuring a selection of 12 ice creams, which will rotate throughout the season, Pop’s was opened as a labor of love for the Jones family with a special idea in mind — dietary inclusion.

Among Pop’s specialties are numerous options that individuals with certain allergies can enjoy. This stems from their family’s history.

“We have a couple people in our family that are lactose intolerant, so they can’t have ice cream. And we have one grandkid who is allergic to eggs, and there are a lot of eggs in ice cream, so we can’t have eggs,” Jennifer Jones said. “So we wanted to offer options for people with special dietary needs.”

This led the couple into exploring other options they could offer to meet those needs. After doing some research, they came across Italian ice, among others.

“The Italian ice that we carry doesn’t have any of the major allergens,” Jennifer Jones said. “And as an extension of that, we looked into carrying gluten-free ice cream and cones, because it’s really hard if you have people in your family like that that are restricted by dietary needs to even go out to eat.”

The ice cream sold at Pop’s comes from a company in Salt Lake City, while the couple gets their Italian ice from Bozeman, Mont.

This is not the couple’s first leap into the business world — they also own the popular Idaho Escape Room, which has operated since 2016.

But so far Steve Jones has seen similarities between the two operations.

“Every business has its quirks, but in the end business is business,” he said. “Working with ice cream is a lot different than working with escape rooms and rental properties, but you have the same basic concepts — inventory, staffing. When it comes down to it, it’s the same.”

Pop’s currently has one full-time and one part-time employee, along with the owners. The Joneses hope to expand further with more employees in the coming months.

The couple also wanted to continue featuring downtown Idaho Falls as the focal point of the business community.

“We wanted to work with the Downtown Development Corporation and a lot of the businesses in the community with this,” Jennifer Jones said. “And it’s been fantastic, as far as the neighbors in the area.”

Stephanie Stanger frequents downtown and has visited Pop’s twice with her two daughters. Her family loves not only the service but the experience they have received at the location.

“They just have amazing flavors,” she said. “I have two girls, so they loved the pink walls in there and all of the fun colors of the ice cream.

“It’s just really cool to have places like this downtown for everyone.”

Stanger said her family’s favorite ice cream flavor was overwhelming playdough, which she describes as “the embodiment of childhood happiness.”

Steve Jones said playdough has been a customer favorite since the store opened, with a flavor that is hard to describe.

“You have to see it to believe it,” he said. “It probably outsells others four to one.”

A concern for Pop’s might be the limited peak season for ice cream sales. But Jennifer Jones believes the shop will be able to withstand the winter months.

“We might not see as much business in the winter, but living in Idaho it’s winter six months out of the year,” she said. “I think people are used to it being that way, and you just do not eat ice cream. I think it will be a lot less seasonal than you see in other parts of the country.”

The Jonses hope the large amount of people flocking downtown to events and enjoying a day by the river this summer will help make the shop thriving business.

“We’re all about bringing families together and having them spend time together,” she said.

Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.