BYRON, Ga. — It’s almost the end of summer, but the owners of an Italian ice shop in Byron say you can enjoy their icy treats year-round.
“The only difference is in wintertime, you can eat it in the house,” Sherrod Dillard said.
Dillard and his wife, Ngozi, celebrated Philly Italian Water Ice’s grand opening on July 20. The married couple are the co-owners of the store, and they say they're happy to bring a northern staple to the South.
Located at 100 Hamilton Pointe Drive, the shop has over 60 different natural and artificial flavors of Italian Ice, which the owners make themselves and are dairy-free. They put out 16 of those flavors every day for customers to mix and match their own combinations.
You don’t have to wait for the Georgia National Fair to come to Perry to indulge in some carnival favorites. Aside from Italian ice, Philly Italian Water Ice also has strawberry, plain, blueberry and banana flavored funnel cakes, pretzels, and pizza pretzels.
The store gets the pretzels from a distributor in Philadelphia, ensuring their authenticity. Sherrod says pizza pretzels are a Philly classic.
The shop’s most popular flavor among its adult customers is Tropical Rainbow, which is a combination of pina colada, mango and pineapple flavors. Kids usually choose flavors based on the colors, so blueberry and bubblegum reign supreme.
Ngozi and Sherrod have a 7-year-old son who, they say, names a lot of their Italian ice flavors. He named a blueberry and coconut mixture, ‘Smurf,’ and a banana and grape combo, ‘Batman.’
Sherrod says he and his wife left Philly for the South to get away from city life and start over.
“[I] was kind of tired of the city life, the fast paced environment. Down here it’s a lot slower,” he said. “I just wanted to find somewhere where we could pretty much just go with the flow, rather than all of the hustle and bustle.”
The Dillards saw a sign advertising shaved ice at a flea market shortly after they first moved to the Peach State, and they decided to try it.
Sherrod said he and Ngozi tasted one scoop of the shaved ice and thought it was so bad that they threw the rest of the cone in the trash.
“We just walked into a flea market and had some nasty [shaved] ice and was like ‘I don’t want this ever again.’ So, we just brought the north to the south,” he said.
Philly Italian Water Ice has been in operation since 2016. Before opening a store this summer, the couple used to operate the frozen dessert shop as a pop-up for catered events or festivals.
“The demand was so intense, we decided to just open up a store,” Sherrod said.
Sherrod says Philly Italian Ice’s Bryon store is a “stepping stone” for bigger plans.
“Hopefully we’ll be opening a second and then a third,” he said.
He says the couple is toying with the idea of opening a store in Warner Robins and Macon, but nothing is set in stone yet.