Aurora Beacon-News Local News

Iconic ice cream shop Banana Split in Aurora set to be back for another season


For Aurora residents Randy and Lisa Brown, retirement from their longstanding ice cream shop Banana Split is going to have to wait.

The couple announced in October that they were aiming to sell the iconic Aurora business at 820 Church Road they have owned for over 40 years during the off-season and forge a new path traveling and enjoying their grandchildren.

Lisa Brown, 61, said that by January, she knew those plans would have to be put on hold, something that both she and her husband Randy, 64, knew was possible from the beginning.

“We haven’t sold yet. We’ve had interested parties and a couple buyers that we thought were close, but, like everything, it doesn’t work on our timeline. You just deal with the punches and go from there,” Lisa Brown said. “Hopefully it will sell during the season, and we still get to retire and do community work and play with those grandchildren.”

The couple say for now, the shop is scheduled to open for the season on Feb. 29.

Brown said about seven offers have been made for the business, all by local people, including “a few restaurant entrepreneurs with more than one store” but with the majority being “people that want the American Dream.”

“The sticking points are people not willing to pay what we’re asking – people that want to buy a 40-year-old business that has been profitable. It’s not going for $100,000,” she said. “If you had to open an ice cream store like this today it would be over $1 million, and that’s with no history. It’s not a cheap business.”

Randy Brown agreed that money has been an issue but that just as importantly the Browns “want to sell to the right people.”

“We have a reputation and a history in the community that’s been positive and we want that to continue,” he said. “Some of the buyers have indicated wanting to buy the property and then have someone else be here and run it. We’ve never done that and don’t believe that’s the way to go.

“I’m disappointed that I haven’t really found the right fit,” he said. “It’s taken me longer than I thought it would.”

“It has to go to the right person,” Lisa Brown said. “We want to make sure because of our reputation. We want our good name to continue. We want the next person or people or family to have a great life. I don’t want anybody to take it to lose their shirt. I want them to continue what Randy and I have started and the wonderful experience we’ve gotten from it all.”

Co-owner Randy Brown prepares some freezer equipment in anticipation of the Banana Split ice cream shop in Aurora opening for the season on Feb. 29. He and his wife Lisa aimed to sell the business in the off-season but were not able to find the right buyer.
Co-owner Randy Brown prepares some freezer equipment in anticipation of the Banana Split ice cream shop in Aurora opening for the season on Feb. 29. He and his wife Lisa aimed to sell the business in the off-season but were not able to find the right buyer. (David Sharos / For The Beacon-News)

Last fall, the couple said customers were in mourning over what they thought was the final drop of the curtain for the ice cream shop, an outcome that may not have been in the cards.

“People thought we were going to close the shop and never open the store. All that was said was that we were contemplating retirement,” she said. “The day a story about us came out I told Randy it was like a visitation. People were crying at the window because they thought we were leaving saying, ‘You can’t close – this is where we had our first date’ or ‘We came here after we had our first child.’ It was so heartwarming.”

“It was a surreal experience. It was like a funeral, and we had our second-best day in the history of our store on the day before closing in October,” Randy Brown said. “The people were not crabby. They stood in a half-hour line from 1 p.m. until 10 minutes before closing and they were genuinely happy for us and sad for themselves thinking the store was going to be gone. If you could have a funeral for yourself and be there that’s what it felt like.”

The majority of last year’s staff are ready to return for the scheduled opening on Feb. 29, the Browns said.

“We had such a great crew last year and it would have been a good time to stop, but they’re still ready to work,” Randy Brown said. “How can I deny them that opportunity? We’re going to cut some of our hours back and take some days off which we never did in the past.”

Lisa Brown said work is going on to get ready for opening day.

“I’m putting my orders in soon and waiting for a repairman to come and fix a freezer and everything is ready to go,” she said.

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.



David Sharos , 2024-02-11 00:21:47

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