Nestled into the corner of 5th and Main Street in downtown Albion is a tiny little building with a big reputation for delicious warm-weather treats. As the temperature inches up, people are flocking downtown to Shorty’s Ice Cream Shoppe from miles around to satiate their sweet tooth, and maybe re-live a memory or two along the way.
The little building has been a longtime fixture in Albion, originally functioning as a Coryell gas station, built in the 1930s. On April 1, 1950, the structure took on dairy instead of diesel, when Vena Beth and Maynard Findlay opened the Albion Dairiette, which they operated until Maynard’s death in 1981. Vena Beth and her son, Charlie, continued to run the business, and Charlie operated it until the end of 2009, when he decided it was time to sell.
It appeared for a time that the business was in danger of closing permanently. As luck would have it, however, all it took was a phone call to the right person to keep the establishment alive. New part-owner Janelle King explains how it came to be.
“We got a phone call asking if we were interested in buying the local ice cream shoppe in town. My sister and I had always planned on opening an old fashioned diner in town, so when this opportunity came along, we jumped at it and we haven’t looked back since.”
So, in 2010, Albion natives Dave and Deb Landauer and their daughters, Jennifer Landauer of Petersburg and Janelle King of Newman Grove, found themselves in the food-vending business.
With the new ownership came a new name, Shorty’s Ice Cream Shoppe, named after the Landauers' father and grandfather, LaVern “Shorty” Landauer, who passed away Saturday, June 27th.
The Shoppe’s namesake was known for his ability to strike up a conversation with those around him, and was himself a well-known fixture in the Petersburg and Albion areas.
“Grandpa always liked visiting with people in town and it seemed like everyone in Albion knew ‘Shorty,’ so we decided to name it after him,” Janelle laughed. “We’re all kind of short, too, so it worked out good.”
The Landauers themselves have had a few memories made during visits to the Shoppe over the years. Dave & Deb met at the Dairiette in 1972 when Charlie Findlay was running the business. In 2012, Janelle and her husband Chad got engaged on the roof of Shorty’s after an evening picnic.
Now, Shorty’s Ice Cream Shoppe offers a full food menu in addition to its well-known and loved cold treats, including chicken strip baskets, chicken strip sandwiches & wraps, hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, tater tots, cheddar bites, chili cheese fries, pretzels and more.
The aptly named Tornado, a mixture of thick ice cream and a choice of toppings, continues to be the shoppe’s best-selling item, and the owners are always looking for new combinations to satisfy their customers’ cravings.
“We’ve had customers recommend a certain flavor for a shake or tornado, so we try it out for awhile. And, if everyone likes it, we keep it on the menu, like the Red Velvet Cake tornado from a few years ago.”
In addition to the enticing food items and ice cream, Shorty’s also offers smoothies, cream smoothies (ice cream mixed with real fruit smoothies), shaved ice and the new “Sno Storms”—shaved ice layered with soft serve vanilla ice cream. The Shoppe also makes brownies and cakes, and business-goers walking along the street might catch a whiff of their homemade chocolate chip or monster cookies.
“We’re always baking and trying new things to add to our menu,” says Janelle.
Shorty’s Ice Cream Shoppe encourages its followers on social media to make requests. “We’ve had a few odd concoctions over the years, but we know everyone has their favorites so we’ll make any odd request the customer wants!”
On the whole, it’s a lot of flavor to come from such a small building, but the owners have hopes to one day expand.
“It’s way too small for all the equipment we have…we definitely can’t fit anything else in here!” Janelle relates. “Hopefully we’ll have a little bigger building here someday that still has the same character and charm that this one has. We want to keep coming up with new menu items and giving our customers a variety of options to choose from for years to come.”
Shorty’s is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 11:30 am-7:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 pm-7:00 pm. Find them on Facebook, here.