The neon lights are still on in the windows, and people still approach the front door of Cheney Delights hoping for ice cream, pulled-pork sandwiches or homemade cookies.
Since April 8, the restaurant has been closed, a little earlier than owners Fred and Gail Pollard had planned. Originally slated to close April 18, the Pollards had to close early after a garbage truck knocked down the store’s power pole. The store was without power for three days, forcing the couple to throw away much of the ice cream, pulled pork, pulled beef and other food items they had been preparing for a big closing day.
“That was so, so hard,” Fred Pollard said. “Most of the stuff on the menu is made from scratch.”
The two said they tried to save as much of the ice cream as they could and went from business to business in Cheney to share it with others rather than let it go to waste.
The city got the power back up around midday April 10, but opening back up for eight more days didn’t seem like a good option for the couple, especially during Easter weekend. Many of the items on the menu take up to three days to prepare, and the couple wanted to spend the holiday with their children rather than start over from scratch preparing food for a restaurant that would close soon anyway.
Business at the restaurant was becoming seasonal, making it too costly to keep open full time.
Cheney Delights opened in February 2007 after the Pollards moved their family to Cheney from Florida. Fred taught himself how to make ice cream and set about asking everyone he knew about their favorite flavors. In fact, he still asks people he meets the same question.
“Basically, Fred practiced until he figured out how to make it,” Gail Pollard said.
Once the restaurant was open, the two set about involving themselves in the community. They joined Pathways to Progress, now named the Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership. They partnered up with Mayor Allan Gainer to help create the Cheney Merchants’ Association. The two have been seen serving up food during summer movies and concerts in Sutton Park. Gail has made special cookies without peanuts for local schools, and the restaurant has catered events such as the Daddy Daughter Dance sponsored by Cheney Parks and Recreation.
Now that the restaurant is closing, the two still plan to be visible in the community. They are still planning to sell food at the concerts this summer and to start their own catering business. Fred is president of the board at the Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership and has plans to run for City Council this fall.
Fred is also planning on falling back on his experience as an electrical engineer to start his own business performing energy audits, especially for low-income housing or small businesses, helping them find better ways to become more energy efficient.
But before they can start moving forward, the Pollards want Cheney Delights to give back to Cheney one more time.
They are planning to open Friday, serving their signature ice cream, pulled-pork sandwiches, pulled-beef sandwiches and fries, starting at 11:30 a.m. and continuing until they either run out of food or customers that day. At 4 p.m., there will be an all-you-can-eat spaghetti feed for $6 per person. The two will donate 15 percent of the proceeds to Relay for Life.
“I love Cheney,” Fred said. “This is where I want to retire.”