The Lakewood community got a whole lot cooler this summer. Adri Jones-McMeekin is the proud owner of Kona Ice in Lakewood, a colorful shaved ice truck that residents will see driving around the streets of Lakewood to the tune of calypso music.
The brand’s iconic truck offers customers a one-of-a-kind experience by inviting them to create their own shaved ice on the self-serve Flavorwave™ while enjoying the soothing sights and sounds of the tropics. Currently, there are more than 1,200 franchise units in 49 states. As soon as a Kona Ice truck pulls up, all patrons get an overflowing cup of freshly shaved ice and can help themselves to any of the ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave™ (an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow) or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.
Adri first came across Kona Ice years ago when she was in Florida with her daughter, Riley. Captivated by the colorful characters and calypso music, Riley was instantly drawn to Kona Ice, begging her mom for a “Kona Kup” as the company affectionately refers to the refreshing treat.
Months later, Jones-McMeekin saw a Kona Ice Truck in Colorado, which caught her off guard because she thought it was a Florida staple. Once again, her daughter was instantly excited to order a Kona Kup. After speaking with the owner of the truck, Jones-McMeekin was happy to learn the brand was a franchise concept and thriving in the greater Denver area.
The third time Jones-McMeekin ran into the tropical truck was the summer of 2018 when her daughter delightfully yelled, “Mom, look! Kona Ice! ”
“The fact that my 8 year old daughter could recall a brand after seeing it twice, calling out Kona Ice specifically and not simply assuming it was another ice cream truck was astonishing to me,” recalled Adri. “From that moment, I knew Kona Ice was something special.”
That same summer also brought some drastic changes to Adri’s life when her father passed away. This loss challenged Adri to reflect on her life and what she had accomplished, and helped her determine what she valued most. These circumstances led Adri to consider a career change.
Jones-McMeekin had a background in journalism and had padded her resume with an MBA. After working in media for 25 years, she was looking for something that would allow more time with her daughter in addition to providing an opportunity to make an impact in her community.
With a new goal in mind to be her own boss, Jones-McMeekin began looking into various franchises concepts and kept finding her way back to Kona Ice. When researching different franchise opportunities, she noticed that across the board, no one had a negative thing to say about Kona Ice. This was a reassuring feeling for a seasoned businesswomen who was considering leaving a field she was comfortable in to embark on a new, unfamiliar business venture.
Equally as important to Jones-McMeekin in choosing a business was not just what it could do for her, but what it could do for the community. Adri also loved the giveback component of Kona Ice. A true community-ally that’s renowned for facilitating fundraising opportunities nationwide, Kona Ice has given more than $62 million back to neighborhood schools, nonprofit organizations, community centers, organizations and youth teams since its inception in 2007.
Kona Ice truck owners usually choose to donate 10-25% of the profit from fundraisers back to the organization they are serving. Adri recently served Kona Ice at a retirement party for a teacher at a local Lakewood school and served all guests at the party for free. In addition, Adri has held events that went beyond what she expected, which inspired her to donate additional funds to the organization. Overall, Adri has donated almost $4,000 to her community since opening her truck in April of 2019.
The philanthropic aspect of Kona Ice solidified Adri’s decision to go into business ownership.
“I loved the idea of working with a business whose primary focuses wasn’t making money, but bettering the community.” Said Jones-McMeekin. “Kona Ice is able to positively impact the neighborhood not only through the money we give back, but also by providing children with a healthier sweet treat through a fun, colorful truck.”
In a state like Colorado where it is not uncommon to experience a fluke snowstorm in April or summer heat in October, running a business like Kona Ice might seem like a bit of a risky venture. Jones-McMeekin jokes that she runs her business “…from Easter to Halloween”.
The season might be winding down a bit, but there is still plenty to look forward to. With a new school year beginning, Adri is mostly working with local schools and churchs for their fundraisers. However, there are still plenty of events to catch Kona at before the year wraps-up. Adri will also be serving Konas at the Jeffco Action Center’s 50th anniversary party, an event she is very excited about. Jeffco, a Lakewood-based nonprofit, is an organization Jones-McMeekin has supported personally as well as through her Kona Ice business.
With the implementation of flavors like Pumpkin Pie, Snickerdoole, and even Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Adri’s truck is ready to transition to autumn and is perfect for any fall festival.
Although this is only her first year in business, Adri has loved her experience with Kona Ice – so much so that she will be opening another truck next year! Jones-McMeekin’s second truck will be opening in the spring, and she will be serving the South Park area. Adri is excited to be growing her business, especially with a brand that makes people so happy like Kona.
“My favorite part about Kona Ice is the joy I bring to people. I love seeing the smiles on children’s faces when our truck pulls up.” said Adri, “Knowing I can expand my business, spread cheer and have more opportunities to give back to the community is the most rewarding feeling.”