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Whitey's Ice Cream adapting to store's closure

BY BILL COONEY | FEBRUARY 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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A few weeks after the closing of the Whitey’s Ice Cream downtown location, fans and the business itself are still getting used to the absence of the Washington Street landmark.

“We knew that it might be possible, but we weren’t sure,” Jacob Orris, Whitey’s Coralville location manager said, referring to the closing of the Iowa City store. “No one was shocked when it happened, but we didn’t see it coming before.”

Orris, who transferred to the Whitey’s Coral Ridge Mall location after the Iowa City store closed, said all 12 people who worked at the Iowa City store were also offered a job at the Coralville location.

“I’d say around half of the people who worked at the Iowa City store came over, so about six employees,” Orris said.

Whitey’s, which opened in Iowa City in 1994, is just one of many located throughout Iowa and Illinois. Whitey’s was founded in Moline, Illinois, in 1933.

Its ice cream is also carried in various local grocery stores, which aren’t seeing the effects of the Iowa City closing yet. 

“You kind of figure people would be buying it more, but we haven't seen a change yet,” says Sean Cavanaugh, director of store operations for one of the Iowa City Hy-Vee locations.

Waterfront and North Dodge Hy-vees also reported no increase in sales of Whitey’s since the closing of the Iowa City store.

“I liked them because they were cheaper than Cold Stone, and they had good sherbet.” UI sophomore JaMeisha Morgan said. “I don’t know if I would go all the way to Coral Ridge just for some Whitey’s, but I would get some while I was there.”

The building formerly occupied by Whitey’s, 112 E. Washington St., is undergoing changes as well.

“We want to bring this building back to the way it was before World War I,” said Mark Ginsberg, who owns M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, 110 E. Washington St.. “I think once we’re done with the renovations, this is going to be a sexy space.”

He said he wants the space to bring something new to downtown.

“I’m interested in this space becoming something different, something that doesn’t exist in Iowa City or Coralville yet,” Ginsberg said. 

Along with the renovations came the discovery of a 60-year-old painting underneath the old wall.
Ginsberg said the painting blew him away, and after doing research, he discovered UI student Fred Leach painted it in 1955.

“We’re going to try to preserve it and restore it, if possible,” Ginsberg said. “We’ll have to see what that process would be, and if it would even be possible, but at the very least we’re going to keep it as it is.”


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