By kalea hall
Every morning, John Evan goes into his business and has to have a taste of a chocolate malt.
Each time Evan tastes the malt, he is taken back to eating the famous Strouss Department Store malt, once a downtown Youngstown staple.
“These [malts] are as close to dead-on as you get,” Evan said.
The ice cream used to make the malts is the award-winning hard serve ice cream that is homemade by Bob McAllister, Evan’s business partner. Together, the two are prepping for a busy summer at their two recently opened ice-cream shops called BoJo’s Creamery.
“I think our product speaks for itself,” Evan said.
McAllister has been making ice cream for the last 12 years. He owned the former Giering’s Home-made Ice Cream that was in New Middletown, which is where he won three blue ribbons for his ice cream. The vanilla flavor won first place in the National Ice Cream Retail Association competition in 2004. McAllister’s chocolate and chocolate supreme ice cream also won blue ribbons in the competition.
“They always say you can tell a good ice-cream shop by the taste of its vanilla,” Evan said.
The two opened their first BoJo’s, a combination of their own names, in Austintown last December on Raccoon Road, at a former Bruster’s ice-cream parlor. At the beginning of June, they added on and opened a Boardman location on Market Street that once was a Los Gallos Express. Last Wednesday, the Boardman location had its official grand opening and on June 22, the Austintown location had its grand opening.
Both Evan and McAllister like to say “go big or go home,” when it comes to their ice-cream business.
“We are just scratching the surface of where we want to go,” McAllister said.
Known for their 2-pound banana split, which can be made with any flavor ice cream, the two want to add more “big” treats. They have just started offering a four-scoop sampler that can come with any of the 34 flavors the creameries offer.
But growing in what items they offer is not McAllister’s and Evan’s only concern. Growing in location is another priority. They have looked at two locations in Salem and Pennsylvania.
Ice cream always has been very popular in Northeast Ohio, they said.
“Ice cream was always kind of a benefit in life,” Evan said. “During the Depression era, I think a lot of people would take their [families] out for ice cream [as a treat].”
McAllister and Evan said their prices are comparable to their area competitors. Cones start at $2.40, a pint is $3.95 and a quart is $6.75. Both creameries also sell novelty items such as cheesecake on a stick and frozen bananas.
Roy Brown, 73, of Austintown is a frequent customer of BoJo’s. Although Brown cannot try the popular flavor chocolate caramel pretzel because of diabetes, he is still faithfully getting his sugar-free fix from BoJo’s every time his sugar-free chocolate quart runs out.
“My uncles and dad use to make homemade ice cream and, in my opinion, this is better,” Brown said.