On hot and humid summer days, there's nothing better than a cool soda and an ice cream sundae. Sounds pretty great, right… I met up with Chef Daniel Orr recently to check out the scene at a new and yet old ice cream parlor in Columbus, Indiana. Chef Orr will be a familiar name to restaurant goers in Bloomington, Indiana… he runs FARM Bloomington on Kirkwood Ave. And, we use him here at WFIU for our program Earth Eats. Being born and raised in Columbus, he remembers Zaharako's from his childhood.
For those of you not familiar with the little burg of Columbus, Indiana, let me fill you in… It's world-renowned for its modern architecture. It's received numerous awards by various magazines and organizations, but to site the most recent, National Geographic Traveler ranked Columbus, Indiana 11th out of 109 historic destinations worldwide – higher than any other US destination. Seriously!
We met up with Tony Moravec, the man behind the mission of restoring Zaharako's. He not only has experience renovation old buildings, but he worked in an ice cream parlor as a kid. "So I thought, 'how could I go wrong?'"
Zaharako's is really part-museum, the center-piece of which is the Welte Pipe organ. This instrument was part of Zaharako's at the turn of the century, but it was sold to a California collector in 2006. Moravec said, "When I acquired the building, my thought was the most important thing to do would be to get the Welte pipe organ back if at all possible." After negotiating with the collector and refurbishing the instrument, Moravec succeeded in returning this "iconic piece" to Zaharako's.
In addition to the organ, there's lots of memorabilia from the turn of the century, there are the authentic marble soda fountains, photos from when the ice cream parlor first opened in October of 1900, lots of things to see and touch. At the beginning of this whole process, Tony traveled around the country educating himself about all things soda and ice cream, "(and) fortunately or unfortunately, I started collecting the stuff!"
But let's not forget, that this place serves soda and ice cream, and there's no way Chef Orr and I are getting out of here without trying some! I ordered a scoop of the Dreamsicle ice cream, and Chef Orr went for the natural flavors of vanilla ice cream, peanuts, pecans, caramel, and topped with some whipped cream.
It was exactly what we were hoping for on that hot summer day!