Susie and John Coombe came to Paonia in 2006 and knew they wanted to become more involved with the town. The Paonia Library was raising funds at that time to build a new library, and the couple purchased the old corner building and allowed the library to stay rent-free until it was ready to make its move. As soon as the books were gone, the Coombes began to remodel for an art gallery. After reconsidering the amount of space available, they decided that an ice cream shop was just what downtown Paonia needed. Little did they know that it would soon become the summertime cornerstone of the town.
Ollie’s Ice Cream first opened its doors during the Cherry Days celebration of 2009 and the gallery opened two weeks later. The Susie and John ran the art gallery for several years and had a lot of fun showing the works of artists but 2009 was not the best financial time to open an art gallery in a small town. Clothes designer Elisabeth Delehaunty now runs her flagship store Refinery in the gallery side and uses the upstairs for production of her Elizabethan line of eco-fashioned clothes. As for Ollie’s Ice Cream - the sweet little shop has flourished from June through September every year.
"Susie claims that just about every person in town is a customer as ice cream is one of the five important food groups. The staff consists of energetic high school kids who bring their own crowd of family and friends to the store each evening. Susie and John have enjoyed getting to know each of their young employees and their families. They have attended countless weddings, baby showers, and graduations and are proud of the legacy of their hard-working crew. Sharon, the store’s ever-present and invaluable manager, helps to keep the scoops flowing and the register balanced at the end of the night.
Ollie's is open from noon until 8 pm during the week, noon until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 1 pm to 7:30 pm on Sunday. They usually flip their open sign for the first time each year following Memorial Day, and summer just doesn’t seem like it has arrived in Paonia until you’ve had that first scoop. They offer a variety of flavors and feature Anne and Mann as well as Enstrom ice cream. The intoxicating odor of freshly made waffle cones wafts from the corner of Grand and Second Street every evening and they offer delicious gluten and dairy-free options as well.
The entire town seems to lay in wait for Ollies to herald the announcement that summer is upon us, and as always, the summer months fly by all too fast. There could never be too many family trips to the quaint corner ice cream shop and those loyal connoisseurs that savor the last cone of the season in September will have to close their eyes and remember the experience throughout the winter, until the leaves turn green and they hear the sweet words once again, “Ollies is open!”