LA GRANDE — Decorated with a tiki hut theme, Snoasis is helping visitors at Riverside Park beat the heat with shaved ice. Owned by a single mother of four, the shaved ice shack has seen an increase in businesses this summer despite COVID-19.
“People enjoy that feeling of a normal summer,” owner Olivia Westenskow said.
Shaved ice is different than a snow cone. Rather than using crushed ice, the cold treats are made with a machine that slices into a large block of ice to create shavings, to which flavored syrups are added.
Westenskow brought Snoasis to La Grande from Boise in 2017. She established a contract with the La Grande Parks and Recreation Department and began selling shaved ice at the park in 2018. The mobile shack features 69 flavors, with the option to mix and match and add special toppings, such as sour spray or ice cream.
She operates the shack with another family, running Snoasis every other week with the help of her four children — age 5, 8, 13 and 15 — during the summer. The children assist with everything from filling syrup dispensers to working the till. Westenskow said it is a great opportunity for her children to work on their math and social skills during the summer.
“It’s like a hobby business,” she said. “And it is a great way for the kids to earn money. This is the first year my 8-year old will work the till,” adding that the kids use an app to help with the math.
Westenskow said her children also help advertise — they stand outside the shack eating the shaved ice to draw other children to the bright teal structure on a trailer.
Westenskow was prepared to open the business after spending her teen years working in a shaved ice shack.
“It was just so much fun and such a great experience,” Westenskow said. “As a mom I thought it would be a great idea to give my kids that same experience.”
Previously the shack was open on Adams Avenue, but Westenskow said she thought they would have more luck selling at the park.
While playing or attending an event, park visitors see the shack as a nice treat. She said it also is great for date nights or family time.
Despite COVID-19, Westenskow said, there are plenty of customers. She said employees are talking the appropriate measures by wearing masks and gloves and frequently cleaning.
The shack is open Tuesday-Saturday from around noon to 6:30 p.m. depending on the weather and events at the park.