Bucking winter: Bahama Buck's opening Wednesday in Abilene as storm rolls in – Abilene Reporter-News

The new Bahama Buck’s could be a tropical oasis in Abilene during the coldest winter storm of the season. 
Because of COVID-19, the opening of Bahama Buck’s was pushed from two summers ago to February. Bahama Buck’s serves shaved iced, smoothies and other chilling treats.
“Our original opening date was August 2020, but the obvious situation delayed that,” franchisee Dodd Roberts said.
Temperatures the first three days of operation will be well below freezing, with a high of 22 forecast for Thursday and first real chance of snow this season.
More:Abilene city services, Taylor County officials prepare for coming winter storm
Still, Roberts was preparing for a Wednesday grand opening at Allen Ridge Lifestyle Village shopping center, at East Ambler Avenue and North Judge Ely Boulevard.  
This is the second location for Roberts, who opened his first in San Angelo in May 2018. 
“I just love the motto of the company, which is to bless our guests by providing the ultimate tropical dessert experience. And so I think the store, the atmosphere, the product, everything goes into that,” Roberts said.
Founded in 1990 in Lubbock, Bahama Buck’s has about 115 locations in Texas and seven other states. 
There was a previous location in Abilene, opened in 2006 at 3910 Buffalo Gap Road. It’s now an Alfredo’s Mexican Food location.
The Abilene location will have 38 employees, Roberts said. 
More:Taylor County, other Texas entities are bracing for severe winter storm
More than 100 original flavors of shaved ice, called Sno in Bahama Buck’s parlance, are on the menu.
Other items include smoothies, sodas and a blended frosty coffee drink called Frostalatte. 
There also are flavorings with zero sugar, calories or carbs.
“We even have no sugar added Blue Bell ice cream,” Roberts said.
The signature Bahama Rama Mama is for those who can’t choose between ice cream and shaved ice. A scoop of ice cream is topped with Sno, flavoring and then finished with a creamy drizzle. 
Multiple tropical flavors are showcased in the acai bowl, which includes granola, coconut flakes and fresh fruit over an acai sorbet. Acai (usually pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a purple berry harvested in the South American rainforests and touted for antioxidant properties. 
Long before he was a purveyor, Roberts was a fan of the Bahama Buck’s products.
“I used to recommend two things. One is cucumber, which a lot of people might think, ‘Oh, that’s very refreshing.’ And then, the one probably more common, is a horchata BRM (Bahama Rama Mama) with cinnamon sugar on top. … It is the bomb.”
Blue coconut with cream is the top seller at the San Angelo location, followed by Oreo Sno, a recent menu addition, he said.
“We also sell a popular Sno that was created by our crew in San Angelo, the Mangonada Extreme: mango flavor, real mango chunks, chamoy and a tamarind candy straw,” Roberts said.
Chamoy is a variety of Mexican sauces and condiments made from pickled fruit.
Roberts is opening the venture near Abilene Christian University, where he earned a business degree in 1986. 
After working in public accounting and finance in Dallas that included stints with Southwest Airlines and in the credit card industry, Roberts and his family returned to Abilene in October 2015. He is the director of the Halbert Center of Missions & Global Service.
As he was making the transition from corporate life to mission work, Roberts looked for another business venture. 
“I’m kind of an entrepreneur at heart,” he said.
Bringing Bahama Buck’s to San Angelo and Abilene has been an exercise in patience. He first secured the franchise rights for Abilene and San Angelo in 2014. He also has the the right of first refusal for Brownwood. 
“It took three years to find a location, a suitable location, in either town,” Roberts said.
The Allen Ridge shopping center had appeal because of its “uniqueness,” close proximity to ACU and Hardin-Simmons University and high volume of vehicle traffic, he said.
The 95-acre Allen Ridge Lifestyle Village is a mixed-used development spearheaded by ACU. A boardwalk-inspired urban shopping center features restaurants, boutique, yoga and other retailers. Outdoor seating runs along one side of pond with water fountain, and walking trails connect to the university and apartments under construction.
 “There’s nothing like it in Abilene right now and one of the first of its kind,” Roberts said. 
That location works with the casual, tropical atmosphere of Bahama Buck’s, he said.
That be encouraging to customers coming out of the cold this week.
The Bahama Buck’s culture melded with Roberts’ intention to have an enterprise that, while having to be financially viable, offers more for the community.
“We’ve got a lot of other principles and goals that run the store, and that’s to help bless people’s lives and to be a positive presence for God in the community and to join God’s mission of reconciliation of all things,” Roberts said. 
Such a business principle “might seem a little bit silly to people. How can a shaved ice shop be a force for reconciliation in the community? But there are several things we do to try to fulfill that purpose,” he said.
Examples at the San Angelo location – which he hopes to replicate in Abilene – include hiring people with special needs “that might not be able to get a job at other places,” he said. 
The location also supports several nonprofits and conducts a “Yellow Sno” fundraiser in January, donating to a local family the profits from the sale of treats that color. 
Those endeavors plus others are “just some things we do intentionally to live into a broader purpose,” Roberts said. 
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Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News.  If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com


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