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Let’s Eat: A family journey (7 photos)

Epic Cones strikes a chord in Thunder Bay with their soft serve ice cream.

Inspired by an ice cream shop in Toronto, Danielle and Adam Turuba decided to open Epic Cones in 2018. The couple have a son with a peanut allergy, and they wanted to create a place that was guaranteed to be free of both peanuts and tree nuts.

“We are such an ice cream town, our community loves it,” Danielle says. She makes all the baked toppings for the ice creams at home. “All the cakes, the brownies, the crumbles, I make everything,” she says.

Danielle says her husband has always had an entrepreneurial streak and welcomed the challenge of building a new business. The first two years, they both worked full time and took the ice cream trailer on the road on their days off. Eventually, Danielle was able to leave her job to focus more on Epic Cones.

Epic Cones is open from Wednesday to Sunday. The trailer is always at the Oriental Garden on Dawson Road on Sundays, but the other days they can be found all over town, so customers need to check Epic Cones’ social media page for updates.

“When COVID hit, we had obstacles like everybody else. But we had so many local businesses reach out to us and offer their parking lot. It’s been great, it’s been wonderful,” she says.

This year they opened six weeks earlier than usual, in mid April. “It was because of COVID,” she explains. Because Epic Cones is a family business and does not have employees (other than help from the couple’s daughter and their niece,) they were not eligible for any grants or funding. When the local health unit gave them the green light to open, they were surprised by how many customers showed up.

“Everything else was closed at the time, so we were crazy those six weeks, until everything opened again,” she recalls. “As young entrepreneurs, it’s a struggle sometimes. But we bounced back, and it’s been a great summer.”

Their last date this year will be Oct. 3. During the holiday season, Danielle makes and sells nut-free baking trays. “[I made] over 200 trays last Christmas. Sold out within two weeks,” she says proudly.

Epic Cones offers soft serve ice cream with a variety of toppings, and the caramel apple crumble (inspired by Adam’s favourite dessert from Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, Minnesota) is their best seller. “We’ve turned 1000 pounds of apples into crumble,” Danielle says, “and we’ve sold out, so I got to bake more.”

Epic Cones also offers their most popular toppings as scented candles - they collaborated with local candle maker Deep Roots to make candles that smell like apple crumble, strawberry shortcake, s’mores and more.

She says customers love the quality of their ice cream and the fresh-baked toppings. “And we don’t have overhead, so we are able to keep our prices reasonable. It’s a perfect fit for Thunder Bay.”

The Turubas hope to upgrade from a trailer to a food truck in the near future. Adam’s long-term dreams include a storefront, Danielle says. “He loves working for himself,” she says. “This was his dream and it’s just getting bigger. He works really hard.”

“It’s been a great journey for sure,” Danielle says.

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