Creating a hub for families in the community to make memories while indulging in sweet treats was exactly what motivated Chase and Ali Woodward to open Countryside Cones, nicknamed “Coco’s” by the couple’s three children, in Countryside Village.
The idea for the shop originated after the family, who reside in District 66, realized there wasn’t an ice cream parlor near their neighborhood. Ali, a former pediatric intensive care unit nurse, and Chase, a practicing orthopedic spine surgeon, decided it was time to change that. Although the Woodwards were new to the food scene, they were determined to learn as much as possible about the industry by immersing themselves in classes and training.
As a New Jersey native, Ali Woodward was inspired to bring a piece of the shore to Omaha by offering soft-serve frozen custard and waffle cones that are both made fresh daily in the shop. The concept of the business is rather straightforward, according to Ali Woodward.
“We’re trying to keep it simple, but tasty,” Ali Woodward said. “We want to be a welcoming spot for kids where they’re not overwhelmed by decisions. We also want the line to move quickly for families.”
The shop’s bright and playful interior, which includes pink ceilings and sprinkle decals on the front windows, is an expression of the fun and flavor that is served to every guest.
The menu consists of timeless treats including chocolate and vanilla custard, as well as two vegan options: vanilla custard and Dole Whip. Patrons can also add simple toppings like rainbow sprinkles, crushed Oreos, or shredded coconut to complete their order. Made with milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, frozen custard is produced in a machine that incorporates less air into it. This allows the product to be denser and creamier than traditional ice cream.
Keeping it Simple
While artisanal hard-scooped ice creams have been very popular in recent years, the Woodwards hope that their approach will make Countryside Cones stand out in the area.
“There are so many delicious ice creams served around Omaha and these businesses come up with very exotic, unique flavors you wouldn’t really expect,” she said. “And I love that, don’t get me wrong, but we’re capitalizing on trying to be different and keeping it really simple. We think that’s something that is missing in the market — kid-friendly, simple and locally-owned.”
Like many businesses today, Countryside Cones has experienced supply chain issues and delays, as well as cost increases, yet that hasn’t slowed the business owners or put a damper on their journey. In fact, since embarking on business ownership, the Woodwards have managed to execute many of their goals.
“I’m really proud of us for learning so much because we didn’t have a business or food background at all,” Woodward said. “It’s been so fun, though. We have loved getting to meet other business owners in Countryside Village. This opportunity has really made us become part of the community and feel involved.”
Positive Vibes Only
Anna Dudziak, store manager of Countryside Cones and a native of the neighborhood, said the business has also provided a creative outlet.
“Ali is really great about bringing her ideas to fruition, which is exactly what she did with the shop,” Dudziak said. “We want this place to make people happy if they’re sad, and even happier if they’re already happy. That’s the vibe we want to have. We hope our customers leave here with new memories and a great experience.”
While the short-term goal is navigating through the end of the busy summer season, Woodward said long-term goals include expanding and adding an ice cream truck to take to events down the road.
“We hope to take advantage of events in our community, especially with Westside High School being right across the street from us,” Dudziak said. “We plan to sponsor and support different clubs and teams, as a lot of our employees are cheerleaders, band members, soccer players and all of the above. We’re working on getting involved in as many ways as possible to really cultivate relationships and be supportive of our community here.”
For the Woodwards and their team, family and community will always remain at the center of the shop, which officially opened for business in July 2022.
“We’re excited for people to visit us,” Ali Woodward said. “We’re really looking forward to serving the community and being here for a long time.”