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Despite the cold temperatures, Aurora ice cream shop opens for business

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Updated: March 28, 2014 8:59AM

AURORA — Turns out there’s one definite perk to consuming an ice cream concoction in near-zero temperatures. It won’t melt.

The latest arctic blast to hit Aurora didn’t keep East Side regulars from their Banana Split fix — the popular ice cream shop opened for business Wednesday.

The cold didn’t keep Randy and Lisa Brown, co-owners of the shop, from sticking to their opening date, either. The couple opens the shop near Garfield Park on the Wednesday before March 1 every year, Randy Brown said.

But the two admitted there was some debate this year. Lisa Brown tried to coax her husband into waiting until Friday to open, but tradition won out.

“This is the coldest we’ve ever opened in 32 seasons,” Randy Brown said. “We realize it’s really cold, but it’s not a blizzard. Today will be just fine.”

The shop’s first customer of the season greeted them just as Banana Split opened at noon Wednesday, while temperatures hovered in the single digits. Thursday’s ice cream-serving weather is expected to be even colder with lows near -8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

John Little of Aurora visited the shop around 1 p.m. Wednesday for one of his favorite treats, a Hot Tin Roof blizzard: vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and roasted peanuts mixed up in layers.

“They could keep [the shop] open all of the time. All of the time I’d be here,” Little said. “Hot or cold, it doesn’t make a difference.”

The cold didn’t keep kids away, either. Five-year-old Bryan Pina popped out of his mom’s SUV to order, but promptly retreated to the car just as soon as his blue slushie was up.

Auroran Jose Maciel brought his daughter, kindergartner Andrea Maciel, for an ice cream cone after school.

“She said, ‘look, it’s open,’” Maciel said.

The Browns said they don’t mind hand-dipping icy treats that rival temperatures outside, but they are looking forward to the “best month” for ice cream — May.

A warm spell in March could bring a flood of customers, too, Randy Brown said.

“We had a record-setting March two- years ago when the weather went into the 80s,” Brown said. “It all depends on the weather.”

The Browns opened the ice cream shop at Church and Sheffer roads in 1983. Their best season was in 1993, according to Randy Brown.

Volume of ice cream served and revenues have been down the last few seasons, but Lisa Brown said she can’t imagine being in another business.

“I never had an end game to this. We were 20 and 23 when we opened,” she said. “Now, it’s 32 seasons later.”

Banana Split isn’t the only seasonal ice cream retailer braving the bitter temps. Another favorite on the city’s East Side, Deri Delight on Ohio Street, opened for the season Feb. 1, according to an employee.

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