East Coast treats come to Cary at Boardwalk Bob's
Amy Wahl's favorite childhood memories were made in Ocean City, N.J. Every summer, parents Steve and Sylvia Mountsier took Wahl and her brother for a vacation to the famous seaside community.
It's the place where Wahl walked in the sand while eating ice cream cones, swam in the ocean and spun around on carnival rides along the 2½-mile boardwalk.
The Barrington native, now a 17-year Cary resident, continued vacationing in Ocean City when she married and started a family. Her five children, who range in age from 12 to 19 years old, carry the same childhood memories their mother does.
"It's always been so special to me, but with the boardwalk becoming such a big part of the kids' lives, it increased in value to me because they love it," Wahl explained.
Now Wahl has brought a taste of those summer vacations to Cary. She and friends Deanna Martens and Judy Spielmann recently opened Boardwalk Bob's East Coast Treats at 140 Crystal St. (Route 14), right next to Kojak's.
Named after a friendly local who hangs out at the real boardwalk, the shop offers the same food found at the vacation spot. French fries, hot pretzels, funnel cakes, cotton candy and salt water taffy, as well as ice cream cones, shakes and sundaes are some of the shop staples.
But Boardwalk Bob's specialty is Granny Annie's Italian ice in 24 different flavors -- from the basic lemon and cherry to the more exotic tastes of mango and coconut. The creamy ice is shipped from the East Coast.
Wahl and her husband have been selling this brand of Italian ice at Chicago-area community festivals and at their business, X-Treme Wheels Skating Center in Crystal Lake, for five years.
"We give a lot of samples to customers," Wahl said. "Once we get a spoon in their mouth, they want it instantly."
Not content with offering the basic Italian ice flavors, Wahl and her partners have been experimenting with mixtures and are selling the results of their concoctions.
A Bob & Annie is comprised of two layers of Italian ice and one layer of soft-serve ice cream, while an Annie & Cream is a blended mixture of Italian ice and ice cream.
Just like anything else, customers choose the flavors when ordering a specialty dessert.
Although Boardwalk Bob's just opened, Wahl is keeping an eye on the future. She wants to start offering New York-style pizza, large pieces folded over and eaten like a taco, and is hoping hungry high school students will take advantage of a "slice and an ice" special.
Granny Annie Italian ice seems to be the popular favorite for now. Wahl said the store has been attracting customers who grew up in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
"There are a tremendous amount of East Coast transplants in the Chicago metropolitan area."
Boardwalk Bob's is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. For information, call the shop at (847) 516-6480.