MT. MORRIS, MI — No, Fat Tony’s Ice Cream is not related to the notorious mafia boss from The Simpsons, but their ice cream has become notoriously popular in the community.
The new ice cream shop, located on 7513 N. Bray Road, in Mt. Morris, opened its doors to the community just over a week ago and it’s already heating up around town.
“It’s definitely starting to pick up and it’s pretty good, it’s pretty busy,” said Tony Orefice, owner of Fat Tony’s Ice Cream. “It looks like it’s going to do alright. I was a little nervous at first – I don’t even eat ice cream, I’m lactose intolerant – but everybody said they wanted it open and I figured I’d give it a shot.”
The ice cream shop had been closed for some time as there was no owner and no one to take over it. Orefice explained that while he was eating diner at Bray Road Diner, right next door to the ice cream shop, he overheard the owner talking about wanting to open up the shop once again.
The owner’s husband, the one that ran both the diner and the ice cream shop had passed away, and taking over both entities was too much work for her hands.
“I told her I’d give it a shot, and my wife thought I was joking but then we opened it up and it’s starting to do pretty good,” Orefice said.
As for where the name came from, it’s a bit of an inside joke between Orefice and his friends Nate. After placing an order and awaiting for his food at a restaurant, the clerk at the counter was calling for “fat Tony.” Orefice wasn’t sure who she was talking to, but then when she brought the food over to him and the restaurant filled with laughter, he instantly knew.
Turns out, his friend Nate was the one that had cooked the food for him, jokingly naming it fat Tony without Orefice’s knowledge. “That was was just the name that stuck, there was no way around it,” he humorously said.
Keeping it homely with tradition, Orefice gets his ingredients for his ice cream locally, as the former owner once did. Fat Tony’s serves Hershey’s ice cream including flavors such as the Michigan favorite Moose Tracks, mint chocolate chip, an orange sherbet, and an old-fashioned vanilla.
But the most popular one? Superman.
The kids love it. It’s a three to one seller, according to Orefice.
Ice creams are hand-dipped, or scooped and come in either single, double or triple cones, single, double or triple cups, in sundaes, and even in pints. Prices start at $2.99 and go up to $5.
They also serve ice cream in waffle cones, and Tony is just beginning to learn to do rolled ice cream, in which ice cream is spread on a flat surfaced, then rolled into a roll.
Rootbeer floats, shakes, banana splits, malts, blizzards, pop, energy drinks and nachos are additional items to the ever expanding menu. Coffee and donuts are always served in the morning as well.
But there’s one thing that Fat Tony’s does that no other ice cream place does – a free cone to anyone with a certain name on that day.
For instance, a couple days ago, Orefice decided that anyone named Rob or Robert would get a free scoop in a cake cone on that day. And it’s not limited to one certain flavor, customers get to choose the ice cream flavor they want for their free cone. Although it was his wife that came up with the idea, Orefice has been happy to continue serving free cones to everyone, saying that “everybody seems to have fun with it.”
He also plans on getting an additional freezer that will solely contain sugar-free ice cream for people who are diabetic, as well as a freezer for lactose-free ice cream for those who are lactose intolerant. Orefice understands what that’s like as he is lactose intolerant.
One thing to know, Orefice likes to cook, mostly smoked foods, but he plans on expanding the food menu in the future. Aside from that, he also plans on extending the shop to the other side of the building, installing arcade games and other fun activities for kids to enjoy once he does.
For now, he’d like to keep the ice cream shop running for as long as possible, hoping to keep it open throughout the whole year, even in the bitter cold months of winter. He wants his employees to be able to work there year round, rather than seasonal, and for his customers to enjoy it during the winter too.
“ (I’m) trying to make sure that everybody is happy that comes in,” Orefice said. “And it’s a fun job at the end of the day when you come in, and everybody that comes in usually leaves smiling, and happy, and I really enjoy that.”
To know more about Fat Tony’s Ice Cream, visit their Facebook page here.