MaryAnn's Place eager to provide community with in-town, on-the-road business

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – At first, Kathy and Sylvia Freidig thought it was a joke. 

MaryAnn's Place has operated an ice cream truck since early June.

When Dave – Kathy’s husband and Sylvia’s dad – initially pitched the idea of owning and operating a local ice cream truck, business went on as usual. All in jest, if you will. 

However, browsing more and more online eventually led to a deal Dave could not pass up on. 

Before Kathy or Sylvia knew it, Dave had his hands on an ice cream truck-customized 2019 Ford Transit valued at $100,000. Driving it from Chicago to Devils Lake in mid-March only made the dream much more of a concrete reality. 

“He was so excited about it,” Sylvia said. “And then, he was like, ‘I think I’m going to get it.’ Mom and I were like, ‘You’re funny.’ We all thought he was joking and stuff, and then, I guess they kept talking about it, and he kept telling me, but I didn’t believe him until I came home one night, and the ice cream truck was sitting in our yard. Then it was there.” 

After learning tricks to the ice cream trade, MaryAnn’s Place officially wheeled its way toward parks, daycares and churches. The truck started formal operations during the week of June 10th, and since then, business has been booming. 

An average day for Sylvia starts around 8:30 a.m. After cleaning and washing everything in the truck, Sylvia then refills the sweet-themed stockpile and treks into town around 11:00 a.m. Then, after briefly chatting with workers, the truck is off to the races. Or, in this case, parks or churches to serve anyone and everyone in need of a refreshing treat. Hot fudge sundaes, not to mention cartoon-themed character popsicles, have proven to be hot (or, in this case, cold) commodities.

Even though the days are long, Sylvia has found an instant liking to being one of the chief workers of the new business. But, of course, driving something bigger than her 2011 Ford Edge only adds to the fun. 

“Seeing the kids’ faces when you pull up makes it worth staying up until 1:00 a.m. counting money at night [and] filling up hot-fudge containers,” Sylvia said. “That’s what makes it count.” 

The namesake of the business came from Kathy’s mom, MaryAnn. According to Kathy, even when MaryAnn was filled to the brim with dinner, she always found room for ice cream. MaryAnn, who now lives at Odd Fellows Home, will even wait for Sylvia to come by with the ice cream truck to order an ice cream cone or two. 

Such love for these frozen delicacies only made it natural to name the business after her. 

“Every time we bring her back from having her out of the home, the nurses meet us at the door and say, ‘let me guess, you stopped and got ice cream. Did you bring us any?’” Kathy said. “So, that is kind of why we named it MaryAnn’s [Place].” 

But the truck is not the only avenue the business is taking. MaryAnn’s Place will also house a downtown location open year-round. After initially toying around with transforming the building into a laundromat, the building will instead sell ice cream and pizza, among other food options. 

But, like any other ice cream scoop, there can always be another topping. In the case of the downtown business, arcades, in addition to a projector to host movie nights, will also look to become an attraction for any interested customer. 

Sylvia – who will be a junior this year at Devils Lake High School – recognizes the importance of the downtown location. After all, it gives younger residents of the town something to do that is local. 

“The town gains a place for the kids to be able to go, hang out, eat food and ice cream and have fun,” Sylvia said. “For us, all there is to do is Walmart and drive around, and those both cost money. I mean, this will cost money too, but it’s not as much as driving around does because gas is, like, $5.00 now.”  

Sylvia (left) and Kathy (right) Freidig are ready to see MaryAnn's Place click on all cylinders with the eventual opening of their downtown location.

As the downtown business prepares for the grand opening currently slated for Aug. 1, Sylvia and Kathy understand the work needed to run the truck and downtown location simultaneously. Even when the weather sets in and the truck goes away during the winter months, Kathy and Sylvia are eager to see what the business as a whole has in store for them. 

With a sprinkle of family support and part-time help, Kathy and Sylvia are ready to see what comes next. 

“Exciting is the word,” Kathy said. “It’s exciting. It’s exciting to bring something fun to the community. We have had so much positive feedback, and it’s exciting to bring that to our community.” 

Nothing could be sweeter. 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.