By Jason Wesseldyk
Are you in need of a cold treat to help beat the summer heat?
If so, there’s a new option in downtown Otsego to help with that.
Located at 132 W. Allegan St., Hau’oli Shave Ice opened to the public on Friday, July 1, offering a large variety of flavors of shave ice to its customers.
Hau’oli Shave Ice is the brainchild of the husband/wife ownership team of Matt and JaNeece Strock.
“When we created Hau’oli, we wanted to create a place where friends and family can come together, connect and enjoy a nice cold treat on a hot summer’s day,” JaNeece Strock said. “Our goal is to provide a top-quality treat and an environment to facilitate quality time with each other.”
On its first day of operation, Hau’oli Shave Ice offered customers the opportunity to try a small shave ice on the house. The response was a good one, with dozens of people lining up to give Otsego’s newest business a try.
“We received a lot bigger response than we were expecting,” JaNeece Strock said. “We’ve received so many comments about people excited to come and try something different. We’ve felt such a welcome from the community and we couldn’t be more excited to be here.
“There are a lot of people who are excited that there’s a dairy-free option for a summer treat available since ice cream can be difficult.”
Customers can order a small ($3), medium ($4.75) or large ($5.50) shave ice. Kiddie size is also available ($1.50).
Each shave ice includes a choice of up to three flavors from the following categories: Sweet (examples include bubblegum, cheesecake and cotton candy); Citrus and Tart (examples include lemon, lime and orange); Juicy (examples include apple, black cherry and grape); Tropical (examples include banana, pina colada and pineapple); Berries (examples include blackberry, blue raspberry and strawberry); and Delights (almond, blue vanilla, cinnamon and French vanilla).
Toppings such as whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and lime juice are also available for an additional fee.
“We spent months ordering from different companies and trying out all the flavors,” JaNeece Strock said. “It took a lot of time, but we wanted to make sure we got the best of the best of each flavor.
“Our flavors come from five different companies as we wanted to order the best from each location. We are even special ordering five flavors made in Hawaii.”
The Strocks passion for shave ice began long ago. Both Matt and JaNeece Strock are from the West Coast, where shave ice stands are prevalent.
“When we first met 12 years ago, we loved walking to any of the local stands, grabbing a shave ice and spending time together,” JaNeece Strock said. “It gave us a unique opportunity to be out of the house, away from distractions and time to connect. We would go get a shave ice a few times per week when we were first married because we loved it so much.”
Although the couple had discussed the possibility of opening a stand of their own one day, the idea remained largely hypothetical.
Then, in 2018, the Strocks moved to Bath, England, so Matt could attend the University of Bath. That’s when they got more serious about getting into the shave ice business.
“That was the first time we really missed shave ice as there was no access to it there,” JaNeece Strock said of the time in England. “We started talking more about opening one once we got settled in a new location.”
After Matt Strock received his degree, he accepted a job at Western Michigan University and the couple settling in nearby Richland.
“We noticed there were also no shave ice stands here and thought it might be a good time for us to get started,” JaNeece Strock said. “We found a builder (Avery Building and Barns) to build a stand with the unique shape we wanted. After that we got onto testing flavors.”
The Strocks originally looked at opening the stand in Richland, but eventually concluded that the layout of the town wasn’t ideal for their needs. After posting about their desire to open the stand and inquiring about potential locations, the Strocks heard from KaTrina Powell of Nanna Roo’s Wild Boutique and Open Market in downtown Otsego.
“We loved the spot on the main street of town,” JaNeece Strock said. “It was easy access for many people to walk to and KaTrina has been great to work with. We’ve really loved working with everyone in the area at the city offices and local businesses.”
Current hours for Hau’oli Shave Ice are 12 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 12 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
“Because we shave the snow very fine, it does take a little time to make each shave ice,” JaNeece Strock said. “Please be patient with us and our employees, as this is the very first job for many of them. They’re doing great and I’m sure will get the hang of it in no time.”
The plan is to stay open until around Labor Day, depending on the weather. In future years, the Strocks anticipate being open from approximately Memorial Day until Labor Day.
“We’re also toying with the idea of coming back in the winter for a hot chocolate stand, but it likely won’t be this winter,” JaNeece Strock said.