At the end of several difficult years, Beth and Dave Hertzler found solace in a small, blue building on the side of Merrimac Trail.
At 7127 Merrimac Trail in James City County, Shoofly Dairy Bar’s large roof is lined with long fluorescent lights reminiscent of a storefront decades ago. To the right, there are picnic tables with extra-large Jenga and cornhole boards. A flashing sign in the front window reads “OPEN.”
The Hertzlers bought the ice cream shop last year after the previous owner of the business — then called Skippy’s SnoBalls — was transferred out of the area to a new Naval station. Before it was Skippy’s, the business operated as the Queen Anne Dari-Snak for six decades.
The couple’s dream for the community staple: healthy living, charity and community service.
The Hertzlers have transitioned the shop to revolve around all-natural products and healthier options. Most fruit is locally-sourced, except in the winter when those products are harder to come by.
“That’s the foundation where we started,” Beth Hertzler said. “We both had a quality we wanted to bring to the shop: homemade and natural.”
The dairy bar also hosts fundraisers for local schools and booster clubs, and donates all their tips to the National Kidney Foundation.
The dairy bar went up for sale just as Beth and Dave Hertzler found stability after several years battling family health issues.
In the past four years, both of the Hertzler’s teenage sons came down with rare, but different, autoimmune diseases, one of which required a kidney transplant.
“We said ‘Huh, this will be fun,’” Beth Hertzler said. “It’s not the hospital, it’s not doctor appointments… It was really perfect timing for us.”
After opening Oct. 1, 2017, the Hertzlers elected to transition to a more healthy menu — that means all-natural sprinkles, ice cream, caramel, fudge and more.
During the regular work day, Beth Hertzler is a holistic practitioner, focusing on physical health and wellness. Dave Hertzler, a Williamsburg native, also owns his own business as a real estate assessor.
So, what’s behind the unique name?
Shoofly Dairy Bar is named after shoofly pie, a traditional Pennsylvanian Dutch dessert the couple serves at the business. Dave Hertzler’s family traces back to the Mennonite community in Pennsylvania.
Dave Hertzler describes the homemade pie as “a vanilla and molasses” dessert with crumble on top. Whoopie pies, a northern treat, are also on the menu.
“We’ve had a lot of people ask what shoofly pie is,” Dave Hertzler said. “They always seem to like it once they’ve tried it.”
Last year, Shoofly stayed open all winter. The couple plans to do the same this cold season.
Being open all year allows the dairy bar to host fundraisers even during the winter months. While business takes a dip during colder months, the community connection is what makes it worthwhile, the Hertzlers said.
Shoofly hosts spirit nights for schools and sports teams, and also donates a portion of revenue for sales on certain nights to fundraising groups.
And the dairy bar is willing to accommodate even the most unique ice cream or shaved ice requests.
“The kids come in with a big imagination — like a Nutty Buddy ice cream, or something else,” Beth Hertzler said.“They really leave with a smile.”