Bonding through business: King Street Hawaiian ice business brings family closer

Jaclyn Bartlett, A&C Reporter

For one family, shaved ice is more than a refreshing treat for the summer, it’s a business that brings them closer together.

Local Hawaiian-themed shaved ice business J&J’s Hawaiian Ice opened a new location on West King Street last month, with over 25 flavors, including sugar-free options. 

“Everybody is welcome here,” said manager Vanessa Saufley. “It’s just always going to be a fun, upbeat environment for people. It’s a nice treat to have in the summer.”

Saufley is 21 years old and has worked for her parents Jacqueline and Jeremiah Smith’s business since she was 15, hence the J&J name. 

The Smiths started the business in the summer of 2015, first with a tent and later with a concessions trailer they set up across the Boone Walmart. They also sold their icey concoctions at App State functions like sorority or fraternity events and sports games. 

They have wanted a permanent location for a while, so when the opportunity opened up, the Smiths decided to finally go for it.

“We mainly wanted a store on King Street, and that opportunity came about this year, so we grabbed it,” Jacqueline Smith said.

Jeremiah and Jacqueline Smith started the business as an additional way to support their large family of eight children, alongside Jeremiah Smith’s construction business, Craftsman Who Care. Another motivation behind the business was creating something they could do as a family.

“They really just started it so that we could all spend time with each other,” Saufley said. “But it was also just something that you just don’t see around here. Nobody had anything like that around here for at least several years.”

Jacqueline Smith said all but the two youngest of her eight children have taken part in the family business. 

“I like it because we could always involve family,” Jacqueline Smith said. “It was always a fun time to take the children and interact with the customers. It’s just a family-type environment.”

The family also works together in creating the menu, coming up with their own unique flavor combinations.

“They’re all different combinations that we’ve just made throughout the years, and we all worked together and came up with the names,” Saufley said.

There are stories behind the names as well. Saufley said Hawaiian Pippi, a mixture of cherry, banana and blue raspberry flavors, is named after her sister, and Bahama Mama, with mango, pineapple, pina colada and orange, is named after her mom.

“Anytime I recommend anything to anybody, it’s usually the Hawaiian Sunrise which has guava mango orange in it,” Saufley said. “And it’s just so pretty too. It looks exactly like a sunrise. It tastes amazing.”

Customers can choose one of the family’s flavor combinations or come up with their own. They can also add toppings such as coconut shavings or sprinkles.

The shop is currently open 12 p.m to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 

“It’s just a family business,” Saufley said. “We just like having those values, making people feel welcome.”