SHAMOKIN -- The story of survival in a business climate that hasn't been too kind. An ice cream shop in Northumberland County is celebrating a milestone at a time when other stores have not been as fortunate.
Colorful paint inside and flowers outside. Mauer's Ice Cream Shoppe brightens up Market Street in Shamokin. The restaurant attracts a lot of regulars.
"I'm here everyday. Morning time I'm here for coffee and to read my paper. Most of the time I'm here for lunch," Edward Kotwica said.
Mauer's Ice Cream Shoppe recently celebrated a milestone. Ken Bethge has owned the restaurant in Shamokin for 20 years.
"We make a good product, have good service at a reasonable cost," Bethge said.
Bethge bought the restaurant 20 years ago when it was in nearby Coal Township, and moved to Market Street in Shamokin soon after.
In 2002, he showed Newswatch 16's Mike Stevens how to make the shoppe's famous bittersweet ice cream. When Bethge first set up shop, he made 250 gallons of ice cream a month. Now...
"350 gallons a week in the wintertime, and then the summertime, which we're starting to get in to now, we'll probably do anywhere from 800-1,200 gallons of ice cream per week," Bethge said.
In an economy where so many businesses are closing up shop, Bethge says his secret to success is what he calls "Coal Region prices".
"We try to charge enough that we make a living, but they can still come in. I'd rather deal with volume, a lot of people coming in and servicing them that way," Bethge said.
It doesn't hurt that Mauer's Ice Cream Shoppe makes a sweet treat that keeps customers coming back.
"The ice cream is very legendary. The bittersweet--my kids love it," Virginia Pawelczyk said.
"The ice cream is very good, especially the bittersweet. Nothing better," Brenda Tobias said.
Bethge says he plans to serve ice cream in Shamokin for as long as he is able.