JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This story was originally published by the Florida Times-Union.
Dreamette soft serve ice cream — a beloved Jacksonville mainstay treat for 74 years — has arrived in historic Springfield.
Dreamette Ice Cream Springfield, 1401 N. Main St., will celebrate its grand opening at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Owners Mari and Jimmy "Jim" Van Soest overcame a series of frustrating equipment-related challenges that delayed the opening for several months. But that's all behind them now, Mari Van Soest told the Times-Union.
“The journey to this point hasn’t been easy, including long delays in getting crucial parts, but we are finally ready to convey our love through ice cream to Springfield and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Jim Van Soest said in a news release announcing the business.
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The Springfield location is the fifth Dreamette to open in the Jacksonville area since the iconic original Murray Hill ice cream stand began serving up soft serve cones, sundaes, bowls and milkshakes in 1948.
The new shop joins the landmark Dreamette, 3646 Post St. in Murray Hill, San Marco Dreamette, 1905 Hendricks Ave., Dreamette Ice Cream Middleburg, 2620 Blanding Blvd. No 1. in Clay County and Dreamette Aberdeen, 3735 Longleaf Pine Parkway, Suite 208 in Saint Johns, in northwest St. Johns County.
Fulfilling a dream in Springfield
The Van Soests are first-time restauranteurs. The Dreamette was their dream.
Sharing their endeavor is their coonhound Jethro, which is the mascot of the ice cream stand where pup cups and cones are free with any purchase by their owners.
Mari Van Soest previously served as a nurse for 33 years and was raised with "family-run businesses" her entire life. Her husband had been in the car business for 28 years and currently is a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida.
The couple has known Johnny Nettles, owner of the original Dreamette in Murray Hill, for decades and began talking with him about opening one in Springfield.
"We felt the oldest part of Jacksonville deserved to have the oldest ice cream store in Jacksonville," she said.
They couldn't have done it, she also said, if not for months of hard work and the support of family, friends, staff and their church.
“We are thrilled to have a chance to share God’s love to the community through our little ice cream shop." she said.
The Springfield location features Dreamette's full menu of famous soft serve treats including monthly specials.
Dreamette Ice Cream Springfield has walk-up window service. There is no indoor seating. But there are a few tables outside and an outdoor counter.
Dreamette Ice Cream Springfield accepts credit cards as well as cash. It is open noon-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Monday.