It is all about the atmosphere. And the tradition. And of course, the ice cream.
“My opinion is the atmosphere is what brings people back,” said John Santner, owner of Grayslake’s Tastee Freez, the outside seating only establishment which is a hit for customers in the warmer season.
Santner has been working at the ice-cream and food shop since he was 18. Three years after his family’s purchase of the restaurant they wanted to move on, but he was able to get help financing and has been running it ever since.
Tastee Freez, located at 131 Hawley St. in downtown Grayslake, opened March 1 and will remain open though October.
Dan Thompson, Tastee Freez server and grill cook, has been with the company for three seasons. He said that along with the tasty cold treats the employees’ attitude also attracts customers.
“We try and make the customers feel good when they come up. Ice cream should make people happy but if the person giving it to you is in a bad mood, it is going to ruin your experience,” Thompson said. "We pride ourselves on not having only good food but fast and friendly service as well."
Repeat customer Elaine Cashmore said she has been frequenting the eatery since she was a little girl. “We hung out there in high school and now I love to take my kids!” she said.
Cashmore said that more than just food, Tastee Freez offers an experience.
“It is about summer and community and having a little break from it all. You always get friendly service,” she said.
Cashmore’s go-to meal is the Country Burger and french fries and her treat of choice is the Freezie with peanut butter cups and peanut butter mixed in, she said. But then again, nothing beats a classic.
“Some days just a plain vanilla cone is enough to do the trick. I mean, it is always a good day for a cone,” she said.
Thompson said some of the most popular items are the simplest ones. “The fan favorite seems to be the Cake Batter Shake. Other big ones include the Oreo/Oreo Mint Shake, and our signature Freezees. On the food side of things, there is really only one that stands out, that would be Cheese Fries. Everyone loves our Cheese Fries,” he said.
Kate Karberg is also a long-time customer. “I remember my parents taking me and my sisters here when we were younger. Now that I work nearby it’s a treat to come, sometimes even with my co-workers,” she said.
“Butterfinger Freezees, hands down,” she said about her favorite treat. “Oh, and the Chicago hot dog, of course.”
Customer Bob Zimmerman reviewed the restaurant, saying “Tastee Freeze gives any town that little town feeling. Our town is great and always delivers the sweets. No complaints over the past 19 years!”
The Grayslake restaurant has been a member of the community for over 50 years. The eatery supports Little League baseball teams throughout the summer and each year is a different number of teams, Santner said.
“I try to support the local community as much as possible,” he said.
When the eatery is closed in the winter months Santner said he gets to spend more time with his family. “I mainly watch my two children, ages 5 and 2 1/2, and make dinner for my wife by the time she gets home from work,” he said.
He also spends a lot of time cleaning to get the store ready for opening season, he said.
Before heading over to this local spot make sure you have some green in your pocket, as Tastee Freez accepts only cash. Tastee Freez is open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 847-223-2262 or visit www.tasteefreez.com.