By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The delectable frozen treat we know as shaved ice originated in Japan, during the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) and was called “kakigori.” During that period, the ice was brought down from the mountains and stored in a cave known as “himuro,” which means “ice room.” Back then ice was rare, as it wasn’t man-made, so kakigori was a treat for royalty only. Modern-day shaved ice is rumored to have been invented in Yokohoma, Japan and by the 1920’s, shaved ice was a favorite treat throughout the country. Thousands of Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii to work on the plantations, and they brought the concept of shaved ice with them. While I can’t explain how this treat made its’ way to Texas, one can speculate that people visiting Hawaii, or moving here from there, brought the concept back. Whatever the reason, shaved ice is here, and it’s going to stay!
Shaved ice has been warming the hearts and cooling the bodies of Central Texans for decades! A one-of-a-kind shaved ice experience known as Granny’s Shaved Ice got its’ humble beginning in 2013 after the death of Skyler Stewart’s great-grandmother, Loraine Munday Stewart.
“My granny was an incredible woman – she had 15 grandkids, and 25 great-grandkids – she knew each one of us, spent time with all of us, made it a point to go to our games and to visit with us. She radiated positivity and joy,” explained Stewart. “My grandpa, who we call Big Daddy, and I, went into business together and decided to honor my granny by calling it Granny’s Shaved Ice. We set up at Miller’s Park for every 4th of July – that was our first big event. For the first few summers, we would set up off Hwy 95 and do big events around this area – birthdays, carnivals, and so on. It was a learning year for sure – we had fun running it, but we certainly weren’t making much money. I’m 100 percent certain that my family bought more shaved ice than actual customers did!”
The business continued to be something that was done in the summers and Stewart’s entrepreneurial spirit grew. After graduating from Belton High School in 2015, she attended college at Texas State University in San Marcos. The Stewarts were neighbors with Bob Holloway and arranged to set up a permanent location for the Granny’s Shaved Ice trailer in the parking lot of Holloway’s Sports Center.
“While I was at Texas State, life wasn’t going as I imagined it would. I was struggling and wanted to make some changes. I have always wanted to be my own boss as there’s no cap on how successful I can be. I decided to move home, transfer to Texas Tech in Waco, and focus on the business.” remarked Stewart. “My whole family is independent and understands that things aren’t handed to us in life, we have to work hard for them. That’s what I did this summer – worked hard and got myself back on my feet. My parents are so supportive and help me so much. My dad is a Captain at the Central Fire Station in Temple. He’s a leader and has always taught me to be a leader. He’s instilled a strong work ethic in me and motivates me to work hard for my goals. My mom, Kris, is very soft-hearted and she always encourages me to be kind and sweet. She’s a smiling face to our customers, and everyone loves her.”
Granny’s Shaved Ice prides itself on being homemade from beginning to end – Stewart’s two grandpas built an ice house to facilitate the freezing of their ice. Molds are filled with water and frozen over 48 hours. The ice is dumped and bagged and then fits perfectly into the ice shaving machine. This summer has yielded a plethora of business, so an additional supply of ice is outsourced as needed. The flavors are mixed by hand, resulting in a truly unique product.
“I have the best support system – family and friends have helped me out so much. Big Daddy, is my grandpa on my dad’s side, and he started this business with me. He is still very active in the business and he and his wife, Meme, run our original trailer at the racetrack in Little River – Academy every Friday and Saturday nights. Meme does so much behind the scenes and often remembers things that I would forget,” stated Stewart. “My boyfriend, Sidney, lives in Midland. When he comes to visit me, he helps me with the business so much. My grandpa on my mom’s side, we call him Papa, is the resident handyman. My trailer would be falling apart without him! He is amazing. My sister, Summer, is my go-to girl for everything. I always call her my brain when I am gone. She has been up here helping me since she was 9. She’s 15 now, and I trust her with everything.”
With a staff of six paid employees, Stewart has learned more than she ever imagined about payroll, health inspections, food handler cards, and so on.
“If I had to sum my life in one word – it would be ‘sticky,’” laughed Stewart. “I’ll graduate in December 2019 with a degree in General Studies. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I’ll figure it out! I feel so much better, and I’m more in control of my life, and I’ve realized that I can do anything. The past six years haven’t been about the money. This business has brought my family so much closer – this business has strengthened our relationships, and I’m so grateful for that. My family means so much to me, and I couldn’t do this without them.”
Granny’s Shaved Ice is open Monday -Thursday 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., Friday -Saturday 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.