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Ice-cream truck rings a few Bells

Saturday, 16th May, 2020

The 1960-model ice-cream truck that Bells Milk Bar owner Jason King intends to restore to its former glory. PICTURE: Jason King The 1960-model ice-cream truck that Bells Milk Bar owner Jason King intends to restore to its former glory. PICTURE: Jason King

By Annette Northey

Bells Milk Bar owner Jason King’s long-held dream of owning and operating an ice-cream truck will soon be reality, and his vision for the pleasure icon of yesteryear may just turn out to be a modern-day marvel.

With the help of a generous interest-free loan from Foundation Broken Hill, Jason has purchased an original 1960 ice-cream truck from a vendor in Adelaide and is planning on restoring it to its original gleaming state.

A number of events and changes over the years has forced Jason to look at new ways to do business.

“While the Patton Street experience remains the key focus, and the original store, since Coles shut and things started closing in the street, we’ve had to think about other ways we can still keep it sustainable.

“When Covid hit, there was pretty much no essential reason for people to travel out to Patton Street, and we started thinking about ways to get closer to where people are.

“Other than starting another shop in town, a mobile version of Bells was the obvious solution,” Jason said.

“A lot of the ice-cream vans that are available are all brand new and modern. Comfortable, but not necessarily the same era as Bells.

“When I found one on Gumtree that was running and driving, I couldn’t resist, and thanks to an interest-free loan from Foundation Broken Hill, we’ll be able to make it a reality hopefully in time for summer.”

Jason said he wanted  to make sure he worked in with anyone else here and what they’re doing.

“We’re not going head-to-head with anyone, there are enough parts of town where we could work together,” he said.

“We’re also looking at events, there seems to be an opportunity to take Bells to things.

“We’ve been attending the Council’s New Year’s Eve party for the last couple of years and that’s been doing well.

“And there’s a film festival, things like Agfair and markets, and Pizza in the Park, we’ve just started talking about working in with them.”

The way people live their lives has changed, inevitably, and Jason is taking a proactive stance by being creative with the direction of his business.

“Once upon a time people would jump in their car in their pyjamas, drive over the hill on a hot summer’s night and line up at the door at Bells to get their soda spider or milkshake.

“But now, people’s lifestyles have changed, there’s a lot of things that have changed in the way we have our entertainment and what we do for fun on Friday nights.

“And so, it hasn’t been sustainable to keep the shop open for the whole summer, but this way we can take Bells to the people and they can still have that experience.

“The traditional Mr Whippy-style ice-cream truck, but adding the Bells soda spiders and milkshakes - it seems like a good combination,” Jason said.

“It does need some restoration work inside and out and I’d prefer to use local suppliers if I can, and if anyone thinks it’s something they might be able to help with, I’d definitely love to hear from them,” he said.

“I’ve got a local guy lined up to do the sign writing.

“It’s just one of those things where I knew it was the right thing to do, and that it would work out, and now I’ve just got to get it happening.

“It’s got be available in some way, shape or form by summer.”

At least Jason won’t have to worry about the music synonymous with the ice-cream truck experience, as his new toy comes with a fully functional music box and working (tinny) speaker.

“There’s a range of tunes to choose from, so when it gets closer to the time, we’ll probably put a survey out and get people to vote (on the Bells signature tune),” he said.

“One of the things I’d like to explore too, is how to include new technology with it.

“So, things like a Bells tracker, where people can see where it is and they know when it’s getting nearer to their area; and there might be some way to incorporate some sort of ordering system too, where you can order in advance.”

If any local thinks they can contribute in any way to the project, they are invited to give Jason a call on 0414 917 793.

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