Make us your home page
Everybody's Business

Kona Ice expands in Riverview; Joel's Steak House opens in Valrico

RIVERVIEW — If you've been hearing Caribbean music wafting through the air in Riverview lately, chances are Dale Cooper or his wife, Wendy, is nearby.

The Coopers own the area franchise for Kona Ice, a brand of snow cones sold exclusively from trucks. They've had only one truck, which mostly roamed the south part of the county, until now. In recent weeks they added a second truck that travels around Riverview, FishHawk Ranch, Bloomingdale and neighboring areas.

Instead of Pop Goes the Weasel or other children's songs that make up the standard ice cream truck repertoire, Kona trucks play simulated steel-drum music with an island flair.

"The kids usually know us when we're in their neighborhood because the music's so unusual," Dale Cooper said.

The Coopers' Kona trucks feature 40 flavors, from standards such as cherry and strawberry to more imaginative tastes such as wedding cake and fuzzy navel. The 10 most popular flavors are available from spigots on the exterior of the truck, so customers can pour their own cones. Kids especially like that feature, Cooper said, and they often create combinations that might make a grownup a bit queasy. The sour apple/wedding cake combo is one that especially baffles Cooper.

Cooper wants to elevate the image of the ice cream truck. Instead of the usual beat-up old vehicles festooned with amateurish logos and decorations, his Kona trucks are clean, shiny and welcoming. Parents hosting birthday parties or organizations holding fundraisers will often arrange for a Kona truck to be on the premises, so Cooper wants to make sure his trucks are attractive enough to welcome guests.

One daily stop for the new Kona truck is Riverview High School, right around the time school gets out. (The Coopers' first truck still stops at East Bay High School every school day.) The drivers have passed background checks, and the Coopers donate a percentage of their school sales to the school district.

The Coopers are the area's only franchisees for Kona Ice, based in Kentucky. The brand originated in Hawaii, which explains the name.

"I've had people from Hawaii tell me they grew up with Kona and they're so glad to have a chance to taste the original again," Cooper said. "That's what I've been told, but I've never been to Hawaii, so I don't really know. Sounds like maybe I need to take a business trip."

If you'd like to arrange for a Kona truck to be on hand at an event, call (813) 645-0257.

Joel's Steak House more than beef

Joel's Steak House, a casual upscale eatery that opened in Valrico in December, offers a variety of steaks, of course. But Joel's also serves creative fish specials on weekends and such offerings as a rack of lamb with cherry sauce.

Because it's a new business, the staff and managers are aware that they need to build the restaurant's reputation.

"We're family-owned and family-operated," said kitchen manager Jason Sierra. "We don't get a second chance like Outback or Longhorn does. We have to do things right the first time, and everyone, the cooks, the servers, the busboys, we're all committed to that.

"When you come here, we make sure you feel at home, and when you leave we make sure you feel full."

The steak house is at 1020 Bloomingdale Road at the corner of Bell Shoals Road in Valrico. It's open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For information, call (813) 662-5635.

If you know something that should be Everybody's Business, please contact Marty Clear at

Kona Ice expands in Riverview; Joel's Steak House opens in Valrico 03/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates


    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?


    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  3. When elders are in peril, who do you call — 911 or Rick Scott's cell?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Twelve hours after Irma blasted through South Florida, conditions at Larkin Community Hospital in Hollywood were miserable.

    Police surround the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which had no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma knocked out power, on Sept. 13 in Hollywood. So far, nine deaths have been blamed on the incedent. [John McCall | South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  4. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.