The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 1, 2011

Dairy Barn opens today for season

DANVILLE — A local frozen favorite celebrates 30 years in business this spring, serving up treats for all ages.

Dairy Barn, located off Henning Road, opens the doors for its 30th season today.

This will be the 13th year of ownership for Carey and Joni Cundiff, but the business has been in the family since it was built by Joni’s parents, Joe and Sandy Leonard in 1981.

The Leonards lived next door to the Dairy Barn building and Joni remembers sitting in the backyard on the swing with her father and watching traffic on Henning Road drive by. Joe always felt it was a perfect spot for an ice cream stand.

“And sure enough, he had a great idea,” Joni Cundiff said.

Carey Cundiff helped Joe build the Dairy Barn. Joe and Sandy owned it for six years and then sold it to Carey’s brother, Mike Cundiff, who owned it with wife Jackie for 12 years before selling it to Carey and Joni.

Joe died suddenly soon after selling the Dairy Barn, but all of his grandchildren have gone on to sell ice cream there.

“He would have been very proud,” Joni said.

The building itself has seen changes through the years, but the menu has remained much the same.

A drive-through was added during Mike’s reign and the serving window was moved from facing Henning Road to the west, to its current position facing south.

The menu for its 30th anniversary season has all the traditional Dairy Barn favorites. Payton’s barbecue, hot dogs and Polish sausage; 19 varieties of ice cream, both soft serve and hand-dipped; and a variety of homemade frozen treats.

Carey said the soft serve is popular, but the shop is unique because it also has 16 hand-dipped flavors. Of those, lemon is most popular, followed by butter pecan. Black sweet cherry was added just a few years ago.

Treats are prepared in advance, many times by Joni’s grandmother, Stella Good, 92. She has worked in different parts of the operation throughout the 30 years and makes many of the Dairy bars, nutty bars, ice cream sandwiches, drumsticks, frozen bananas and turtle pies.

The Cundiffs say it’s literally a family business, not only because it’s been owned by family for three decades, but also because nieces, nephews, cousins, sons and daughters have all worked there. Also, they feel like their customers are like family, too.

“It’s almost a joke, you’ll see them somewhere in town and I can’t remember their name, but I’ll know what they order,” Carey Cundiff said.

Joni, on the other hand, prides herself on remembering the names of the customers.

Another source of pride is handing out substantial cones.

“We’ve been known for that,” Carey said. “That’s why people come here.”

Sunday evening is the busiest night at the Dairy Barn. They employ around 25 part-time workers for the season, most of whom are in high school and college.

“It’s a good summer job for them,” Carey said.

The Dairy Barn opens today and will stay open until the third Saturday in September. Hours are 2 to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.

Opening today

The Dairy Barn’s season starts today and will stay open until the third Saturday in September. Hours are 2 to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.

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