Now in today’s podcast episode, I’m excited, I get to share with you an amazing conversation I had with the owner of Penguins Snowball, and I learned a lot while I was there, I learned that in addition to 145 individual flavors that you can mix and match for literally account almost countless number of varieties, you get the end and other toppings and the fact that they have sugar free options and that penguin snowballs are gluten free. They’re just they’re delicious. But if you’ve never been if you’ve never had a snowball, oh my goodness, you got to get over it. It’s shaved ice to the enth degree better. And so they but what impressed me the most hanging out with Tanya there at penguins is their commitment and care for the community. It’s just amazing. And you can get penguins from be a part of a fundraiser or activity. It’s just it’s phenomenal. So but instead of me going on and on which I could easily do because I love Penguin Snowballs, I am going to go ahead and let’s together listen in to the conversation that I got to have with Tanya at Penguins Snowball.
All right, well, like I said they’re in the intro. I am here with a Tanya, at Penguin Snowball. Tanya, thank you for being on the Discover OV podcast.
Thank you for having me.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m excited. We’re in your office. I had no idea. There was an upstairs office.
There’s a little tiny office.
But it’s great. We weren’t going to be downstairs. But with all the machinery and everything was a little noisy.
It’s very loud.
Yeah. And you’re open, right?
Yes, yes. Yeah.
Yeah. So this is, I think the second of June, we’re recording this 2020. And when do when does penguins open to see your cuz your seasonal, right?
We are seasonal, but it’s dictated really by the weather. So typically, we run from sometime in February, to sometime in October. However, with the weather and Tidewater and Hampton Roads, everyone knows that sometimes in the middle of December, we’ll get an odd, warm day. So we do what we call a pop up in the offseason, if the temperatures just right and the weather’s just right, we will pop open on those particular days. And our our customer base has come to learn that. And they also frequent our Facebook page, they follow our Facebook page. So they know when we’re open. They also know when our umbrellas are up or open flags are up. We’ve got we’ve got a lot of children in our community that drive by daily with our parents, you know, going here and there. And when they see those flags up, they scream at their parents. They’re open! They’re open!
Yeah, it’s pretty cool. But we do do the pop ups when the temperatures just right in the offseason and Hampton Roads has that kind of weather.
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m originally from Ohio, and no place like this was opened in December ever the seasonal places. I know a few months. And yeah, now the other thing that I love is so when we moved here, I had no idea what a snowball was. It’s totally not in Ohio thing. So for those that are listening that may be coming into the area here soon on vacation or they’re here now. Or even for some of the locals that haven’t been fully initiated into a snowball, what is a snowball?
Okay, there are a snowball aficionados,
and our snowball is a New Orleans style snowball. And what that means is that it’s a very soft shaved ice and it would be flavored with a sugar syrup or sugar free, syrup and that syrup is going to go all the way through your snow to the bottom of the cup is going to flavor every bite. And by the time you get to the bottom of the cup, there shouldn’t be any syrup. It should have been all consumed. So hopefully you won’t have a big mess in the bottom of your cup when you finished your snowball. Now that differs from other snowballs around the country and around the world. There are others Hawaiian style shaved iced, which I have not experienced, but I’ve been told that it’s different and also I know there’s another snowball that they make in Asia in the, in that area of the world that is also a little different and they put different things in it.
So ours is true New Orleans snowball, all of our flavoring comes straight from New Orleans, our machine that shoe size comes from New Orleans. And we even have employees from New Orleans that ensure that the product is true to what we claim.
So genuine New Orleans New Orleans shaved ice snowball. All right. That’s amazing. Well, before we talk a little bit more about flavors and all of that. Half. How did you land up here in Ocean View? Are you native? Are you a transplant? What’s your what’s Tanya’s? So and what’s your husband’s name is
My husband is James
James. Okay, so how did you and James end up here in Ocean View, and then ended up owning snowballs
We were both transplants. Okay, I grew up in Key West Florida, where I ate these snowballs, these style snowballs, throughout the whole year, because the weather’s just gorgeous down there. I met my husband, roughly six or seven years ago in Key West where he was serving with the Navy. And a couple of years after that, we decided to get married. And actually while we were dating, he says, I’ve got orders to Norfolk. And I said, well, let’s just play this out and see how it goes. And so I ended up moving to Norfolk, we were married. And it was about two years. And for those couple of years, we would come here to Penguin Snowballs as customers because I loved the product and he loved the product. Have you ever been to snowballs? And so one day, the previous owner said, you know, we think we’re gonna have to sell my parents or her parents, rather, we’re getting elderly and she needed to go back to live with them to attend that situation. And I said, Well, you let us know if you’re serious about selling. And sure enough, shortly after that they said they were ready. We presented an offer and, and it was ours. And it coincided with the time where my husband was retired from the Navy. He served 24 years. He was stationed here at Little Creek,
Okay, so veteran owned.
Yep, it’s a veteran owned business. He’s a 24 year boston mate chief. And so he retired from the Navy. And I also work at a local law firm. And I tried to leave that position. They didn’t want to see me go. So they asked me to stay on two days a week. So two days a week, I still work for the law firm. And then I come here and run our business. So that’s how we ended up at Penguin Snowballs.
Okay, well, that’s amazing. It’s amazing story. Very cool. Um, so penguin snowballs. I’m always blown away by this number. How many different flavors? Do you have
More than 140 flavors.
140 flavors, and people can mix and match.
You can mix and match. And I mean, who knows how many flavor combinations you can come up?
And then the toppings are just another embellishment, they’re wonderful.
So what you know, if you’re like, I’d rather not say trade secret, I understand. But what you know, because I didn’t tell you any of these questions ahead of time. So what what’s the most popular flavor you go through? Like your syrups? Which, which, which one? Do you go through the most?
The top flavors are blue raspberry. We have some that we call fast Movers.
So blue raspberries with cherry. Pineapple. Birthday cake. Banana.
Now his birthday cake, just one syrup or a mix of a cup?
It’s a it’s one, syrup.
It’s one syrup.
t’s its own flavor.
Okay, so what what have you guys ever seen? Or do you? You know, you and your staff talk about you know, maybe it’s one of the more odd combinations.
I had a lady come just Yes. Yesterday or this morning. When we opened early this afternoon. She had cucumber cola. And what was the red one she threw in there? I can’t I was just but I mean, you hear see it all the time. You hear it all the time. And I’m like, hey, whatever floats your boat. I want to keep our customers happy.
Sometimes you guys have a line? Yeah, you don’t have time to dwell on it.
We have a great line. But we’re able to produce a product really fast on our machine is just super fast. We have the top of the line. I like to call it the Cadillac model of Shavers. And it just produces a great product and very quickly,
That we’re fully staffed with two to three people on all the time. So we’re able to move that line very quickly.
How many staff do you have? How many people do you employ?
About 10? Okay, about 10. And they’re they’re mostly high school and college students.
Okay, but they’re more than just Employees
You’re you become a family, you’re invested in our lives.
Absolutely we have. Well, first, that’s just my personality, I really take ownership of everything I’m involved. And I don’t, I don’t say that to mean that it’s all mine. Sure, I really like to invest in myself and whatever I’m involved in, because I feel like my turnaround is going to be so much better if I’m personally invested in it. So I best invest in my employees. And they give me better work product. And we have better work more hours and ethic. And we just work really well together. I’ve got three or four girls that are graduating high school this year. One is already enlisted in the Navy, and she has her ship date to boot camp and get to going to Norfolk State University. And I have another one who’s plant who plans to enlist in the army.
But they all come back to me in the summer that February, they’ll start calling me Hey, are we going to open this year? I’m still on board. I want to come work for you. They enjoy being here.
Yeah, yeah, well, that’s fun. Well, I’m sure it’s a, it seems to be a fun place to work. You make it enjoyable to work here. And they’re getting to work with some of the greatest people of ocean view our residents. And now, I know probably I’m going to assume mostly residents, but I’m sure you see tourists.
We do we see. I we have a customer base of military families. Okay, so they’re not really permanent residents. So they they’ll come we’ll see him for a while. And then unfortunately, they’re gone. Sometimes they go on deployment, and then they come back a few months later and whatnot. So there is an influx of different people, we do have a customer base that is permanent residents, and they absolutely love us. We know them by name. We know their flavors, we know what they want. They’re just great. Great customers.
Yeah, that’s fun stuff. That’s awesome. One, it’s such a unique product in this area and so much right. Now, the other thing is you, you inspire me as a fellow business owner, because you guys leverage your business to do more than just serve yourselves and and run a business, you go beyond opening and closing. So I think you guys are one of the more compassionate and involved businesses in the community. So what are some things you guys do specifically? You do a lot with the schools and kids. So what are some of the specific things you do?
Well, I realized in the second year of running our business, that the more I invested in our schools, the more I invested in our community, the more than community supported our business.
So we are actively engaged in our local elementary schools in our area, little Creek Elementary School, Carrollton elementary school, those are the closest elementary schools to our store. But we’re opening we’re open to partnerships with all our elementary schools in our community, because there are several other as regarding the middle school because that’s right across the street. And I’m not too involved at the high school level, just because it’s a different, a different basis. But we’re open. At one point we were asked to come and sell at the high school football games, but it kind of went to the wayside with some other activities happening. But we are definitely involved in our community. We love supporting our youth, in particular, our underprivileged youth, we want to build them up, encourage and support them.
So what are some things you’re able to do with the schools?
Okay, so at some schools, we actually go in and sell. There are some events, you know, they might have an evening event and evening PTA event where families would come in a Bingo Night, we would come in, we’ll have a table and we’ll sell snowballs, and a portion of our sales would go back to the PTA or back to the school, whichever arrangement we had set up. We have been at school dances, where we sold to the the students, and again a portion went back to the school or to the PTA, whichever we have set up. We have gone for Teacher Appreciation events, where the principal hired us or a parent hired us to go and serve snowballs for those teachers. Staff.
Yeah, that would be really appreciated.
Yeah, staff appreciation. Norfolk public schools, transportation, the bus drivers. They hire us every year to come in on the last day of school to serve all the bus drivers. And that’s hundreds. Yeah, hundreds of bus drivers. That’s a real fun event. Yeah, unfortunately, we didn’t get to do it this year with the circumstances but yeah,
As we’re recording this. It’s everything’s shut down pandemic as a COVID-19. So, yeah, okay. Okay. Well, that’s great. So lots of involvement. And I know that there’s been times you’ve been at the Oceanview Business Association meeting, and you’ve been the You know, rallying the other businesses and challenging the other businesses and in Ocean View to, you know, reach out to the schools and connected with the schools and do different things, right.
And the reason for that is, again, we need to support each other. Our the residents of ocean view, are not only residents, they are our employees, they’re our employers, they are our customers. They’re our neighbors. So if we rally together and support each other in everything that we do, we’re going to be a better community a stronger community.
Yeah. Which is why I am a part of the Oceanview Business Association. That’s a driving, you know, core value to the to the ocean view Business Association is that the better our businesses are, the better our community is, it’s it’s one way to just impact the quality of life, across ocean view,
I have been presented with a lot of opportunities to provide support for our teachers and our students. There are a number of ways and if anybody hearing this is interested, please get in touch with me. Because there’s small things that you can do that maybe just cost $20. There’s more expensive things that can go up to $200. And, but there’s very small things. There’s always something that you can do.
The teachers need the support, they have items that they need for the students. There’s just always something that somebody can do. Yeah. Well, that’s great. And just one of the other reasons we love penguins, I mentioned to my wife walking out the door that I was headed here to do an interview and two of our four kids leaped up and said, let’s get our shoes. And it was I was like, No, I’m not going to get anything. I’m going to do an interview because two of our kids haven’t been here yet.
And so we adopted a 12 and 13 year old this this winter, and we just haven’t been here with them yet. But we’re excited to bring them because they have nothing like this. In Bulgaria, where we have
So yeah. Okay, great. Well, hey, we’re gonna put all the information on the the episode for this at the ocean view. dot does website. And so we’ll link to your Facebook. I know you have a website, we’ll link to that. And you’ve got contact information there. But really, people need to get over and follow your Facebook.
Yeah, that’s where most of our information is. Honestly, we have a Instagram but I don’t use it. Not that savvy. But our Facebook is really where it’s at. Realistically, we’ll post coupons there we post specials. If for some reason we’re shut down for the day because of the weather. It’ll be posted there. Our hours do fluctuate based on the weather. But typically we’re open from about 12 to 9pm. And I encourage you to come out. It’s a great fall
I tell you it is coming here at eight o’clock or so after a long day at the beach. Yeah, let me tell you something is a great way to end a beach day and then had all cools down. And with 140 foot the the longest part of it is the kids going through the flavors picking out.
Yeah for some kids. That’s that’s very difficult, but for some kids, they know exactly what they want. I’ve got some great pictures right at their eye level. Yeah.
You’ve got some fun topping. And you’ve got some like, I don’t know what you call them, but they’re like themed.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve got something called magical unicorn, which is pretty cool. It’s got a twisty lollipop on it with some whipped cream and some sprinkles on it. Sugar rim. We’ve got the Norfolk, mermaid 21st birthday.
This year. Yeah,
Things have gone to the wayside with the city. You know, like all this happening in our world right now. But it is her 21st birthday this year. And so we’ve got a hot special. It’s just flying out the doors.
Oh, well, that’s exciting. Well, I’ll have to go home and load the kids up and come back.
All right. Thank you so much for talking to us today about penguins, ocean view and your guys’s heart behind the community.