ELDRIDGE -- The ice cream that made the Quad Cities famous is expanding its footprint in the metro area, with Whitey's Ice Cream planning its first new store construction since 1995 in Eldridge.
The new location will be in new construction going up on the site of the former Del's Pub and Eatery, which burned down in a massive fire in January 2013.
Annika Tunberg, spokesperson for Whitey's, said an Eldridge location has been on their radar for years and that when business partners Chris and Seth Porter announced plans to build a new retail center on the former Del's spot, it made for a perfect opportunity.
"It's a beautiful new building right in downtown Eldridge and Chris and Seth are wonderful to work with," Tunberg said.
The Whitey's will occupy 114 North 1st Street on the north end of the retail center. Porter Insurance has occupied the south end corner of the building since November, 2015.
"They're obviously a popular name and a very strong business partner to have, so we're just really excited about having them in this building and excited for what other opportunities it will bring to Eldridge," said Chris Porter, of Porter Insurance and co-owner of the building.
There is an additional 2,400 square feet of space vacant between Porter Insurance and Whitey's. Chris Porter said the space would "probably not" be a big restaurant, bar, or sports bar type of establishment.
"Those are great businesses, but I think for what we're looking for, probably more small retail operation or offices of some sort," said Porter.
Whitey’s hopes this new store will more conveniently serve customers who have been making the drive to the eight other Quad-Cities locations. This will be the company's 10th store overall, joining the other eight Quad Cities locations and one store in Iowa City. The Eldridge location - which will include a drive thru - has a target opening of late 2016.
Tunberg said the company is not looking to aggressively expand, but owners are always evaluating opportunity.
"This was really just a perfect fit for us," she said, noting that it offers the chance to move into new construction in a growing community. "There isn't anything else in the works other than Eldridge at this time."
Chris Porter is quick to credit the efforts of his son Seth Porter.
"It was really all my son's doing. He's the one that made the contact and made the pitch to [Whitey's] and convinced them," said Chris Porter.
Whitey’s Ice Cream was founded in 1933 by Chester “Whitey” Lindgren – nicknamed such due to his white-blonde hair. Bob Tunberg started working at Whitey’s Ice Cream in 1935 and eventually bought the business in 1953 with his wife, Norma. Bob and Norma’s sons, Jeff and Jon, joined the family business and eventually became co-owners when Bob passed away in 1991.
Today there are ten locations throughout Illinois and Iowa with product available in grocery store chains across the Midwest. Whitey’s Ice Cream has been named “best in the Midwest” according to the readers of Midwest Living Magazine, one of the “best ice creams in the world” by Conde Nast Traveler.