Special Scoops celebrates successful opening weekend

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - A special ice cream shop is celebrating a successful opening weekend as it becomes the first business in the Tri-Cities to make people with disabilities a priority hire.

People wait for their ice cream at Special Scoops Ice Cream Parlor during their opening weekend Sunday. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Special Scoops Ice Cream Parlor, 237 N St Joseph Ave, opened its doors for the first time Saturday. The shop remained busy on Sunday as people lined up to try their ice cream.

Employees scooped ice cream into cones and blended up malts. The store has dozens of flavors, including rocky road, bubblegum and mint chocolate chip.

Lavon Handler started his first shift at Special Scoops Sunday. He's one of 32 employees at the shop. Most of the workers have a physical or intellectual disability.

Handler said it's a job that gives him opportunities he might not have otherwise.

"It's a good time for me to socialize and get to know people. I mostly don't talk as much so this is my opportunity to know people," Handler said.

There are a few shift managers who supervise operations.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently more than 2,300 people with developmental disabilities on waiting lists for services in Nebraska.

Hannah Hafer bought ice cream at Special Scoops Sunday. She said she has friends who work at the shop, and wanted to visit them.

"I think it'll provide opportunities for those who haven't necessarily had the most opportunities before, but also I think it'll bring more awareness to their situations," Hafer said.

For Donna Bieck, founder of Special Scoops, it's been a long journey to get where they are today.

She had an ambitious starting date that had to get pushed back. Bieck said things just took a little longer than expected. But she said opening the store this weekend has been "like a dream."

Bieck's 17-year-old grandson is the inspiration for Special Scoops. He has autism and intellectual disabilities. She said she wanted to create a place where he, and others with disabilities, can always have a job.

"My prayer is that 30, 40 years from now this place is a staple for Hastings," Bieck said. "I just know it's going to make a world of difference."

Special Scoops recently received a grant from the Hastings Community Redevelopment Authority which will cover rent for the next three years.

Special Scoops hours are:
-1p to 9p Monday through Friday
-noon to 8p Saturday
1p to 5p Sunday