Ravi and Preya Shivdat opened a new Kona Ice storefront on May 7
After several years of success with their Kona Ice trucks, Ravi and Preya Shivdat decided to open a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Ocoee.
Located on McKey Street, the Kona Ice shop had its grand opening on Sunday, May 7, and the owners are already optimistic about the store’s success.
“We had a lot of people who would ask, ‘Where are you (located)?’” Preya said. “So it made sense to transition to a brick-and-mortar because so many people wanted it.”
Kona Ice is known for its trucks and has very few store locations in the United States. The Shivdat’s location will be the only store in the U.S. that will be open year-round.
Ravi and Preya Shivdat started their franchise three years ago after moving back to West Orange.
“We wanted to make our way back home after living up north for a while,” Preya said. “(Opening the franchise) was probably the craziest thing we’ve ever done. But once we started the business, we’ve put 100% into it.”
Kona Ice sell franchises by the zipcode, and the Shivdat’s own all of Ocoee, MetroWest, College Park, Baldwin Park, Maitland, Winter Park and downtown Orlando.
“We know West Orange county,” Preya said. “We have a pretty strong network here.”
When the couple began talking about opening a storefront, they were looking for a location that would fit their specific needs and wants.
“We wanted a small town feel but in a large city that wasn’t downtown Orlando,” Preya said.
The couple had been keeping tabs on Ocoee’s development and liked what they saw in the city's plans for downtown.
“I know what Plant Street used to be and what it is now,” Preya said. “There are going to be some big changes (coming in Ocoee). Ocoee is going in the right direction, and we want to be part of that growth. It’s an exciting time. They want to have their own identity here, and I know it will be good.”
But opening the store while still operating three trucks and raising two boys was nothing short of challenging.
“It’s a juggle every single day,” Preya said.
The couple is excited to feature new flavors and ice cream at the store that they can’t showcase on their trucks. They also hope to continue doing fundraising events for various schools in West Orange County. Last year, they donated about $40,000 to various schools.
“The goal is to make this a spot where neighbors will come in and meet, where homeschoolers can come in and have their lessons, where church-goers will come to meet,” Preya said. “We want that sense of community.”
In the next few weeks and months, the store will host parents-eat-free nights, birthday parties, tasting parties when new flavors are announced, small group events and spirit nights for sports teams and schools.
“We’re excited,” Preya said. “We just need the community’s support now.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].