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Cover of Autumn 2002 - Winter 2003 Issue


Here's the Scoop on Judy Simon '66 ...

Her Bonnie Brae Ice Cream is a Rocky Mountain Delight!

Photo of Judy Simon '66Simon says "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." And when people ate Simon's ice cream the crowd chanted back, "we all scream for ice cream." Judy Simon, a 1966 graduate of Longwood, was famous among family and friends for her homemade ice cream.

Making ice cream for a few people was easy for her but to produce mass quantities for public consumption was another story. After having won numerous regional and national awards against such competition as Haagen-Dazs, Breyer's, and Baskin-Robbins, it is a safe bet that people in Denver, Colorado, will be screaming for additional scoops of Simon's ice cream for many more years.

In 1986, Judy, along with her husband, Ken, joined forces with Bob and Cindy Pailet to open the Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop in the Bonnie Brae section of Denver. Bob and Cindy had expertise in marketing and graphic design, respectively, and thus they assumed responsibility for publicizing the company to the people of Denver. Ken was "Mr. Fix It," according to Judy. If a piece of equipment was not functioning properly, he would attempt to solve the problem before "we called for professional help," she added. He would also assist with any task which needed to be completed. Judy though, was in charge of production. To prepare for the store opening, Judy took a three-week ice cream course in the agriculture department of Utah State University. She learned how to produce large quantities of ice cream with large machines and other important tricks of the trade.

Bonnie Brae Ice Cream started to win awards in the first year and the risk of opening a new business was no longer a concern. A member of the National Ice Cream Association, the company won 1st place for vanilla and 2nd place for chocolate at the 1987 convention. Most recently they have won the last three reader's choice awards in 5280 Magazine for top ice cream in Denver. John Lehndorff, dining critic for the Rocky Mountain News, stated in the June 7, 2002, issue that "Bonnie Brae Ice Cream deserves its reputation as one of Denver's finest ice cream parlors. The ice cream here is rich and custardy and supercreamy; and it's packed with superior-quality ingredients. The vanilla ice cream is simple but nearly perfect. We loved the lemon custard flavor that tasted like lemon cream pie. With its apple bits, cinnamon and crunchy crust bits, the deep-dish apple pie ice cream tasted a lot like its namesake a la mode." The mission from the beginning was "to make the best quality ice cream possible while providing the customer with the best service," Simon stated.

Photo of the top of a Bonnie Brae ice cream containerDuring the summer the lines are usually out the door, but people are willing to wait because it's that good! The strawberry ice cream is made with real strawberries, the Gran Marnier chocolate chip has REAL Gran Marnier, and the vanilla is a 100% pure, three-fold extract. Though many of you are reading this in November and cooler temperatures are rolling in, it still makes you hungry, doesn't it? Unfortunately for those not living in Denver, there is no plan to expand the business beyond 799 S. University. They would prefer to keep the shop small and tied to the community to which they cater. The business is so tied to the community that people started bringing their dogs by for a taste. Judy then created a dog biscuit ice cream sandwich, and she even keeps a pail of water outside the front door.

Originally from Northern Virginia, Judy attended Longwood as an elementary education major. A fond memory for her was teaching reading to eager kids who had been locked out of the public schools during the "Massive Resistance" movement in Virginia. She stated that it was her first real experience "helping those who at the time could not help themselves." After graduation, she went on to teach for two years in Fairfax County Schools and then she and her good friend, Janet Ziegler Sennett '65, decided to be adventurous and move west. She has not lived east of the Mississippi since.

In the Denver community, Judy is a true citizen leader. On September 22 each year, she celebrates the birthday of the ice cream cone by having the local elementary school kids come in for, you guessed it, an ice cream cone. A couple of classes come down every half-hour throughout the day to enjoy the treat. She donates ice cream for after prom parties at area high schools and works with various school groups on other functions as well. At Longwood, Judy remembers the camaraderie of all the students and the wonderful food. Coincidentally (or not), Bonnie Brae Ice Cream has similar words said of it ­ a good community spirit with excellent food to boot. Who wouldn't scream for that reputation?

Bill Fiege '95