Corey Seibert is a true family man. He is also a smart new business owner.
His restaurants and ice cream shops—located in Center Point, Vinton and La Porte City—are named in memory of his mother who passed away just a few days after he had the idea to buy the business.
“My mom didn’t often think much of my ideas but when I told her about buying an ice cream shop and she said ‘that’s not a bad idea’ I figured I’d better give it a try.”
So Seibert opened Tootsie’s Ice Cream and More in Vinton in February of 2012. It was a long established ice cream shop in operation for more than 50 years and was looking for a new owner. Seibert renamed it Tootsie’s and got the rest of his family involved in making a go of it.
Today, his wife Teresa supports the business operations, his son Michael works as a cook, and his daughters—Michelle and Stephanie—manage two of the three Tootsie’s locations. “We don’t want to lose the family connection to our business,” he said.
While Seibert didn’t have prior experience working in the restaurant industry—he actually worked as an engineer for U.S. Bank for 23 years—he knew that location was key. So just a few short months after opening in Vinton he opened a Tootsie’s location in Center Point about three blocks from the schools.
Then this past November he opened Tootsie’s in La Porte City, taking over ownership of another long established walk up ice cream shop.
“It’s tough to take leaps and to open three places in that quick amount of time, but you learn the ins and outs pretty quick,” he said.
An added bonus, Seibert said, is the fact that both his location in Center Point and La Porte City are just a few blocks from the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. “We put bike racks outside,” he said. “We want Tootsie’s to become go-to destinations."
Of course people typically think of buying ice cream in the summer months, but Seibert knew it would be important to keep all three of his Tootsie’s locations open year round. “Sunday is our biggest day,” he said. “It’s when people go out for ice cream.”
Despite the long, hard winter, Seibert said there have only been a handful of days not worth opening.
Ice cream is the most popular menu item, but Seibert said their food is growing in popularity too.
“Our signature food item is our tenderloin,” he said. “We bread our own and probably go through 300 a week.”
Seibert spends most of his time as the full time cook at the La Porte City location. He plans to renovate the interior of that location to make room for a drive up window.
It has been a busy two years for Seibert, and he admits the first year was a challenge. “You are learning everything, like which vendors to use and where to buy stuff,” he said. “We also tested products two months before we opened so we made sure we had products that people liked.” But he said he doesn’t regret a thing.
“We’ve grown awful quickly but we’ve tried to be safe about it and keep our overhead down so we don’t get into trouble.”
Seibert does wish his mom and dad and father-in-law would have been around to see the shops open.
“It’s not just about the ice cream and food,” he said. “It’s the story behind the ice cream.” As Seibert hands out a tootsie roll with every order, he’s sure to be making his parents proud.
At a glance