April 30, 2024

Waffles and Cream in Mount Dora is Making People Smile

2.9 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

By Gina Horan

Waffles and Cream in Mount Dora is Making People Smile

2.9 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

At Waffles and Cream in Mount Dora, making people smile is the sweetest sign of success.

Happiness is made in a storefront in the Mount Dora Marketplace. 

There, you’ll find a ukulele-playing, scooter-riding ice cream man named Chris Jones who has dubbed the corner of N. Donnelly and E. 4th Avenue “the intersection of happy and joyful.”

“We don’t sell ice cream,” says the former corporate executive who spent decades in restaurant research and development and food service purchasing for major global brands. “We create smiles.”

Like so many people, the events of 2020 forced him and wife, Kris, to pivot. 

“The first year of COVID was absolutely brutal,” he says. “Because of supply-chain issues, it got to a point where my personal ethics conflicted with company policies and I wasn’t healthy mentally or physically. If I was going to kill myself working, I preferred to work for myself and my family and not some corporate overlord.” 

 In October 2021, circumstances became dangerous during a family visit to Michigan. 

“I had a stroke and spent nine days in an induced coma,” Chris recalls. 

That’s when he realized that it was time for a change. 

“I woke up and told myself that I was going to be the person that friends and family were praying for,” Chris says.  

Chris credits his wife with unending love and support. 

 “I just told him we would figure it out,” Kris says. “I was lucky to have a really good job so we could try our dream of working for ourselves.”

She still maintains her full-time job but pitches in by handling the marketing and public relations. Kris also visits the storefront from time to time to feel the love from the community and support her husband and what their life has become in Mount Dora. 

“We try to make movie magic out of what we have,” Chris says.

And what magic it is! 

I invited Style Photographer Nicole Hamel and Managing Editor Roxanne Brown to help me suffer through eating ice cream and doughnuts for breakfast. I finished the entire plate in about 10 minutes. 

Nicole loved the caramel macchiato sundae and Roxanne was partial to the Dole in the Coconut, a pineapple-flavored Dole soft-serve treat. She mentioned that for people with lactose intolerance and other gastric issues, it was perfectly creamy and didn’t taste any different than traditional ice cream. 

Dole soft serve is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free and without cholesterol. Flavors include pomegranate, pineapple, raspberry, cherry, watermelon, lime, strawberry, lemon, orange and mango.

Other vendors in the Marketplace keep up with the Joneses by offering savory dishes that complement the signature treats at Waffles and Cream, including the waffle stick sundae and a myriad of other specialty sundaes, flavor flights and floats like orange Creamsicle and root beer. 

Leia and Liam Kabbaz

The Joneses’ menu research and development comes from listening to the public instead of staring at pie charts in a board room.

“For Valentine’s we did a chocolate-covered strawberry concoction and last summer we created a Barbie Twirl which was really cool and very popular,” says Kris. 

Chris credits his wife as being the successful social media guru but admits the greatest marketing draw is the product itself.  

“On the weekends, you hear little kids yelling ‘ice cream, ice cream’ and they literally drag their parents over to our window,” Chris says.  

The most noticeable aspect about the pair is their lightness and joy. It was on full display when toddler fans Liam and Leia Kabbaz walked up and plunged into their ice cream to the point of distraction.

“There’s something about children smiling and laughing that brightens the soul,” Kris says.

The Joneses are also grateful that this adventure came out of a difficult period.

“This was born out of COVID and corporate greed,” says Chris. “You hear the news and it’s all bad and we refuse to believe it now because all we see are happy people.”  

Chris hearkens back to when he was a little kid and mentions that Waffles and Cream opens his mind to so many possibilities. 

“Instead of my world being full of hate and anger, this has totally changed my life and made me a happier person,” he admits. “Now the new goal is to get Kris here working full-time.” 

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About the Author: Gina Horan

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