Graff Dairy closes shop after 50 years
How long would you wait for an ice cream cone?
Any wait times seemed irrelevant Sunday because it was Graff Dairy ice cream and it was its absolute last day in business.
There’s no doubt the institution off 29 Road in the converted white, black and berry-colored, low-slung home decorated with kitschy depictions of cows and cow print curtains evokes an emotional response in the thousands of folks who have been lining up in the afternoons lately for one more taste of the melty treats.
About 100 people spoiled their dinners waiting for ice cream at about 5 p.m. Sunday, four hours before the ice cream shop shut its doors forever.
“This is a childhood memory,” reminisced Jordan Elliott, 19, now a student at Colorado State University.
His favorite flavor: “Classic vanilla,” he said.
Elliott had fond memories of stopping by with his mom after grade school or for a special dessert when they lived closer to the shop, 581 29 Road.
After learning that Sunday was the shop’s last day, he drove down and waited with a friend in a line that snaked well into the parking lot.
“It’s not the same when it comes from the freezer,” Elliot said, still cheery like most everyone else, after waiting more than an hour to get to the counter.
Graff Dairy owners Dave and Judy Nichols have told The Sentinel they were reluctant to close the business that first opened after offering customers milk in 1964. However, a trend toward sharp increases in charges on milk and spiking insurance prices would make the milk too expensive to remain competitive, they said.
The dairy employs 12 people and five of them are fullttime.
Two employees who worked nonstop Sunday appeared exhausted by Sunday night, as the onslaught of customers kept coming.
At one point, Grand Junction police officers were called to the area to manage traffic along 29 Road as cars stalled front-to-back nearly to the 29 Road and Patterson Road intersection.
Glorya, who didn’t want to give her last name, arrived with a number of her family members. Her husband had recently died, and one of the family’s last fond memories with him was coming down to the shop for ice cream. So of course, they made their way down when a family member mentioned they should all go down and get ice cream in his memory.
“We said, ‘Why don’t we go and say bye as a family’” she said.
Ciara Romero, one of two employees cranking on the ice cream machine, said she had been working nonstop since 7 a.m. Sometime during the day, her father delivered pizza so she could have a bite to eat. She estimated serving 500 people on Sunday.
Romero, 17, said she didn’t yet have another job lined up, but plenty of people had plied her with business cards and offered employment.
Would she miss this job?
She gave it less than a second’s thought.
“Not tomorrow or the day after, but the day after that, yeah,” she smiled.