During a golf tournament in Michigan, Dennis Yoder was told of a business opportunity, that of marketing the waffle cone and the equipment to bake them in front of the ice cream customers. It was new to the United States and Yoders were invited to San Diego's Mission Beach area to observe how the public was standing in line for this homemade waffle cone filled with ice cream.
Yoder then contacted the persons at Royal Copenhagen Cone Company in charge of opening new areas like Florida and purchased the rights for the state and began baking waffle cones at a small shop on Siesta Key in late 1982. People drove from as far away as Orlando and maybe farther to watch this new phenomenon. This was one of the first places in the state to offer the waffle cone and soon after, Yoder helped set up Busch Gardens and Sea World with equipment and mix for them to bake this new kind of cone.
The cone mix came from Royal Copenhagen Cone Co of Denmark,which was the original producer of the product,and it was called Big Olaf Cone Mix. After operating for about one year Yoder received permission to add the word Creamery to Big Olaf thus stores were and are still known as Big Olaf Creamery.
in 1983 Yoders opened their second shop on St. Armands Circle and also began making ice cream the old fashioned way with white mountain 5 gallon freezers using ice and rock salt. He and his son Jeff made all the ice cream right in front of each store so the patrons could see the homemade process. This way of making ice cream continued for another 2 years until the method could not keep up with the demand. to continue batch freezers were installed at Siesta Key, still maintaining the homemade feature like adding nuts, fruit, cookies, candy and other ingredients by hand into the freezer or at the time of drawing out of the freezer, which is still the production method used by Thomas Peachey the owner and his son Sam Peachey.
Many of the flavours created by Dennis remain as offerings in current Big Olaf dipping cabinets. By 1990 there were five Big Olaf shops in and around Sarasota the Yoders owned and operated.
Big Olaf Creamery on Lakewood Ranch Main Street opened September 4th 2009. Initially, it was managed owned and managed by the Big Olaf Founders Nancy and Dennis Yoder.
On June 1st 2011, Big Olaf Creamery at Lakewood Ranch was bought by SS&R investment, Inc. which is led by Jeannet Romero, and managed by Gerardo Serrano. Jeannet and Gerardo have been working in the ice cream business in Venezuela for more than ten years. By using the experience they have gained over those years, they hope to continue providing an excellent service to all Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding areas.
Big Olaf Ice Cream has been voted Sarasota's best ice cream most if not all of the years since 1983. Dennis Yoder and his wife Nancy not only were the founders but he also created all of the ice cream flavours they offered back then and most of which are still being produced. there are special flavours like Kahlua Krunch that you will not find anywhere else, which Dennis created for his wife in 1985 because she was and still is a lover of coffee and Chocolate.
And the story continues...