Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie



L-R: Morgan Nobis; Bobbie Hill ; Nicole Lane - PHOTO-J. Ritchie-TALON

According to local folklore, early one morning a young Pami Barnes was watering the flowers in front of her Momma, Annie's ice cream parlor. When out of the mist comes an amazing sight...Low-and-behold, it was the legendary albino moose! Awestruck, Pam looked on as the magnificent animal strode across Aztec Blvd toward her and shook it's massive antlers. The girl was quite taken by the majestic creature and rushed inside for a cone...

And so the story goes, the Vanilla Moose has been serving up smiles for 35 years. Another version of the story is that Annie and Bruce Barnes bought an old service station, turned it into an ice cream parlor and called it 'The Ice Cream Machine'. Annie then discovered there was another 'Ice Cream Machine' down in Oklahoma or some such place, and she decided a name change was in order. According to Pam Shenton, "Mom and a few customers were sitting around trying to come up with a name and somebody mentioned chocolate mousse...it just kind of went from there."

"I was experienced at eating ice-cream," said Shenton referring to her qualifications when she took over the parlor in 2001. "I have just felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to the community for all these years." When Shenton began thinking about hanging up her ice cream scoop a few years ago, she knew she couldn't sell to just anyone. She was looking for a buyer who could truly appreciate the creamy vanilla goodness that is the Moose. "When Nicole and Ryan came along, I knew I had found a good fit." Nicole and her husband and a local attorney, Ryan Lane bought the Moose about three years ago.

"So, my family owned a farm, I grew up here," explained Nicole in a recent visit with TALON. For a home-town girl, assuming the mantle of an Aztec institution was a challenge. "Going in for us, I think we just wanted to keep on doing what Annie and Pam had done so well." Lane said, "We consider it an honor to serve the community in this way...Aztec is an enjoyable, really charming place to live and by keeping the Vanilla Moose running we are doing our part to maintain that." Lane said, "This was my first food business." She says that developing relationships with her co-workers has been as satisfying as an ice cream cookie sandwich with sprinkles, "It was a real education to learn how to work with the public and my co-workers." The Vanilla Moose currently has 11 full and part-time employees, "Now I handle the business side mostly," said Lane. "Thankfully, I have a really great manager that I can rely on," According to Lane, Manager Cari Nobis has the day-to-day parlor operations well-in-hand, "Well, she's a mom you know so there's not a lot that gets by her."

"One of the best parts about my job is the camaraderie with my co-workers, I did not expect that part of it...for a lot of these kids, it's their first job, it's so nice to be a part of that and to help them grow."

As for the future, Lane sees no end to Moose's sweet success. The good news is the Moose is on their new summer hours Monday-Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday-Sunday 11am to 10pm. At the Moose a cone starts at $1.25 and sundaes will run you a three dollar bill. The Moose offers 12 specialty sundaes and free doggie cones everyday all day (Arf!).


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