‘The community is our heartbeat’: Happy Days Ice Cream Parlor opens in Guyton

Credit: Richard Burkhart

Credit: Richard Burkhart

Johnny Wilson looked outside the window of his ice cream shop and could not believe his eyes: Happy Days Ice Cream Parlor was minutes away from opening and patrons were already lined up waiting to enjoy his frozen goodness.

Wilson opened Happy Days' Guyton location on May 3. The parlor is the sister store to the original Happy Days, which Wilson opened in Bloomingdale in 2018.

But had it not been for Wilson taking a leap of faith, the ice cream shops may not exist.

‘You want me to scoop ice cream’?

Wilson was working as a general contractor when he took notice of an old pizza and ice cream parlor in Bloomingdale. He thought the structure could use some love and set out to give it a new identity.

“I thought it would be such a great way to connect with the community and to give back to the community that we live in,” said Wilson.

He brought the idea to his wife Addie Wilson, who admitted she was not thrilled. But after several business and design plans, Addie realized her husband was serious about pursuing the business venture. Shortly after, she jumped on board.

“I didn’t see that being a fun thing to do but he was really into it,” said Addie. “My first thought was am I going to be dipping ice cream for the rest of my life? But he did his research and he was hands on. That’s when I realized he was serious about the idea. I went ahead and supported him. It turned out really great. There’s more to it than just scooping ice cream.”

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Five years later, the Bloomingdale location is thriving and it was time for the couple to open another store. Johnny Wilson knew many of their patrons were coming from Guyton, so to alleviate their travels, he set up in shop in the downtown district on Central Boulevard.

He purposefully scheduled the new store opening for a weekday afternoon so his new staff members would not be overwhelmed. His plan failed - but in a good way.

“Once that door opened, we didn’t close until 30 minutes after our hours were listed,” Wilson said.

‘A happy place for everyone’

Addie Wilson was fearful of more than just their new business venture. The couple moved from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and without any connections in the community, she was not sure if they would welcome newcomers.

Those fears proved unfounded.

“It has been great,” said Addie. “I remember starting out, I was nervous but they have been great. They even give us and ideas and suggestions.”

Among Happy Days' ice cream flavors, the Salted Caramel Brownie, Espresso Chip and Cookie Monster are customer’s top three picks.

“We try not to carry anything less than the best,” said Johnny. “We're never going to sacrifice our products or service.”

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

The shop also features a mini arcade room. The air hockey table has already seen a few tightly contested matchups and customers frequent the skee-ball machine. No trip is complete without one round of the motorcycle game.

“We try to make this a happy place for everyone,” said Johnny. “That’s something we hope to continue as we grow is to keep a community feel and just love everyone that walks through the doors.”

A family affair

One of the couple’s daughters is learning the art of running a business. She has whipped up her own concoction of strawberry lemonade and cotton candy lemonade, two specialty drinks sold at the Bloomingdale location.

“A lot goes into operating a business,” said Addie. “It created a closer family bond. We are in it together. The youngest were in diapers so to see them grow with the business has been great. It has offered us a lot of flexibility.”

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Other families are making the most of their time in the ice cream shop too. Everything from engagements to a military dad surprising his child highlight why Happy Days is just that – a happy place.

“We try our best to continue the good service and provide good products,” said Johnny. “It doesn't matter if we have a line out the door or just a couple people sitting here. That is stuff that we always reflect on. At the end of every workday, we ask ourselves what did we do right? What did we do wrong? The community is our heartbeat. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at lwilliams6@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: ‘The community is our heartbeat’: Happy Days Ice Cream Parlor opens in Guyton


Today’s story comes from our partner, Savannah Morning News. Savannah Morning News provides daily news coverage on Coastal Georgia. Visit them at savannahnow.com or on Twitter @SavannahNow.

If you have any feedback or questions about our partnerships, you can contact Senior Manager of Partnerships Nicole Williams via email at nicole.williams@ajc.com.