Jul 082013
 




The Rich & Creamy ice cream stand has the historic Route 66 highway in front of it and the bucolic setting of an arboretum behind it.

But it also could have some trouble ahead as Joliet city officials begin to think about whether they want to put any money into the aging building they acquired in the early 2000s as part of the Broadway Greenway project.

Part-owner Bill Gulas, who started working at the stand 38 years ago, says it’s a good location, especially since the city of Joliet played up its place along the historic Route 66 highway.

“We’ve had people from Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, England and Italy — all over the world. People come to do the Route 66 drive,” Gulas said Friday during an interview at his stand, at 920 N. Broadway.

The soft-serve ice cream stand has Route 66 signs around it and replicas of the Blues Brothers on top of it, coaxing travelers to visit an area that also includes information boards describing Joliet attractions and history.

The neighborhood business is good, too, Gulas said. And the city helped when it built a kiddie park nearby.

And this is from an earlier article I found:

There will be no eviction for the owners of Rich & Creamy, the ice cream stand on Broadway Street/Route 53 with the iconic Blues Brothers figures dancing on its roof.

In May, the city of Joliet obtained a court order that told operators Bill Gulas and Richard Lodewegen they would be evicted if they could not put a substantial dent in the nearly $18,000 they owed in back rent.

Since then, City Manager Tom Thanas told the Joliet City Council Monday, they’ve done far more than that. Not only did they make a $6,000 down payment on the arrearage, they’ve started to make double payments on their $1,210 monthly rent, he said.

If they continue, they will be caught up on what they owe by year’s end, Thanas said.

“We did have an option of looking at eviction but we thought keeping the store in business and not trying to find another operator made more sense,” he said. “It’s a good location.”

Gulas and Lodenwagen have a 30-year lease with the city, which acquired the 920 N. Broadway site when it was creating the Broadway Greenway in the 1990s and decided to keep the business as an amenity rather than tear it down, Thanas said.

Since then, it’s become one of the local highlights for people who follow what used to be Route 66, the cross-country roadway that once linked Chicago and Los Angeles. Next to the ice cream stand is a small city park area and parking lot.

In May, Gulas said things had been going well for the business until it was felled by a one-two punch in the last few years.

“A couple years back, the economy went bad and business took a hit,” Gulas said. “When July (2012) hit, (Joliet) closed the Ruby Street Bridge and that hit us harder than even the economy.”

Although things appear to be on more solid footing, Thanas told the council the building in which the ice cream stand is located is not in great shape and it may not be worth the city investing a lot more money into it.

“It’s an old building,” Thanas said. “It needs a new roof. It needs some other improvements that we, the city, would be responsible for. We’ve patched it along the best we can and we’ll continue doing that, but we don’t think that site merits a lot of investment of city dollars at this point.”

Also of concern is the building’s close proximity to the street, making it potentially dangerous to pedestrians and drivers.

“At some point in the future we’re going to have look at a better solution to this,” Thanas said.

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