Early Dawn Ice Creamery and Roy Nyholm

 For seventeen years, between 1972 and 1989, Spokane enjoyed a magical spot like nothing this town has seen since. If your youth fell within those years, chances are you shared many happy occasions there gobbling the rich ice cream treats like the Lilac Hurricane or the Circus, a deliciously rich concoction designed to feed 12 people at once. And you had to have drooled over the endless candy bins filled with such a wide variety that no one’s favorite sweets could have possibly  been overlooked.
Located in the Parkade downtown, the Early Dawn Ice Creamery had the festive decor and attention to quality that would have made it seem right at home on Main Street in Disneyland. It makes you wonder why nothing  has come along like it in the years since. Maybe it’s because there’s not been someone with the drive and creativity like Roy Nyholm to come along.
“I got the bug early life watching Farrells,” the 91 year old Roy said recently in an interview, adding that Farells, a now-defunct national ice cream parlor chain, provided the  inspiration  for such  touches as the  barbershop- quartet straw hats  worn  by the servers  at the  Ice Creamery.   Actually, Roy put in many years  and long hours in the family-owned  business, Early Dawn Dairy, before getting to his dream.
“During the war I was stationed in Spokane and would work from midnight to eight in the morning at Baxter General Hospital and then go out to the dairy and take a wholesale route along Sprague,” said Roy, who now lives in Rock Pointe retirement center with his of 67 years, Marie. It was Marie’s father Harold Anderson who started Early Dawn Dairy in 1923 at Ruby and Mission.                                                            “Gonzaga was always our best route,” he said. “I would often deliver a full case of milk and half a case of eggs to one house. The Catholics had big families back then, you know.”
Roy said Harold soon outgrew the Mission location
and bought 10 acres at Best Road and 24th in the Valley. In 1949, Harold took on Roy and Marie’s two brothers Wes and Hal as partners and they all had their hands full running the successful business that grew to employ 225 workers with more than 200 hundred cows on 80 acres of pasture land. But still Roy had that bug.
“I just thought we ought to branch out,” Roy responded when asked  why they went into the ice cream parlor business. Since it was Roy’s idea, it was Roy’s responsibility to make it work and he did it by working hard.
” I would often go in to clean the carpets at closing and still be there when we opened the next day,” he said, adding that the Ice Creamery became successful with the help of Expo 74 and they  soon added stores in Kalispel and Bellevue.
“Roy would go to work at 4 in the morning and then come home at 7:30 and say, feed me quick Marie, I’ve got to deliver ice cream to Montana,” Marie said.  Small wonder that Roy suffered a heartattack in 1990 and had a triple-by pass, leading to the decision to sell the ice cream parlors which failed with the new owners.
“They changed too many things,” Roy said.
“Like the soups,” Marie added, ” People used to come in just for our soup. We used to sell 15 gallons of clam chowder every Friday and Saturday!”
From great soups and sandwiches, to heavenly ice cream and candy, Roy created and ran a wonderful factory of cherished memories.  It’s just a shame that in today’s world of atmosphere-rich chain restaurants you have to take the kids all the way to Anaheim or Orlando to get the experience Roy once gave us right here.
  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! For years I have been trying to remember or to find out what this place was. I have vague memories of going there and instantly smelling the cones as you walked in. This has been driving me crazy for decades. I am so glad I came across this! Early Dawn Ice Creamery at the parkade!

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