by April Rediger
On a hot August afternoon, the line at Ivanhoes often swells past the doors of the little diner and wraps around the outside of the building. Almost anyone who has ever set foot on Taylor’s campus has stood in one of those infamous Ivanhoes’ lines, and most would say the mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone was well worth the wait.
For more than three decades, Taylor University and Ivanhoes have been almost inseparable, and what began in 1960 as Wiley’s Drive-In has turned into a local hangout and somewhat of a local legend. This summer Ivanhoes celebrated 35 years of ownership under Ivan and Carol Slain.
“Without Taylor, we wouldn’t be here,” Slain says. “Taylor has really spurred our growth.”
Ivanhoes has been a part of many lunch outings, Friday night dates and wing get-togethers, and is a favorite spot for campus visitors as well. “We eat at Ivanhoes every time we go to Taylor,” says Kathy Bohm, parent of a Taylor graduate and present student. “We see a lot of parents and kids there that we wouldn’t see otherwise.”
Even during the summer months when students are gone, Taylor still provides a significant amount of business with basketball and church camps or freshman orientations. Coach Don Odle ’42 remembers recommending Ivanhoes as a dinner stop for parents and campers coming to basketball camp in the pre-camp newsletter. “During that first year, nearly half the campers mentioned what a great idea it was to eat at Ivanhoes,” Odle says. Contests were held among counselors and campers, with the loser treating the winner to “Hoes.”
“I can remember when 10 to 15 sweaty, smelly campers were lined up for an ice-cream cone,” Odle says.
As the smell of fresh hamburgers wafts across the street, Taylor graduates of the past reminisce of good times spent at Ivanhoes. Jean Godfrey ’50 and her husband Oliver remember eating soft serve cones from a little stand in the 60s and socializing with friends in the morning over homemade rolls during the time when Ivanhoes served breakfast. Their daughter celebrated good report cards with free shakes from Hoes. From their house across the street from the restaurant, the family watched as the small establishment became a well-known landmark.
Although Ivanhoes has undergone many changes, from building size to menu expansion, the quality remains the same. Of all the changes, the menu has evolved the most. What began with three choices of vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry milkshakes 35 ago has now become an extensive list of 100 shakes and 100 sundaes that challenges the indecisive customer.
Taylor students have even started a new tradition called the 100 Club. In order to join the club, one must try all 100 shakes and or sundaes and have a card stamped for each one. Once completed, members receive a free T-shirt and their names on a plaque.
So far Taylor graduates Jim Snellink ’76 and Weston Young ’98 have conquered the feat. Young began the challenge his second week at Taylor as a freshman and finished his 100th shake his last semester as a senior. In a speech written to commemorate his final shake, he says, “After spending $250 on shakes, I use the phrase ‘healthy investment’ for a reason . . . I now see my quest to eat all 100 shakes as a four-year period of opportunity to build closer and deeper friendships.”
Young remembers most of the shakes and the occasion surrounding their purchase. Shake #42 was eaten on his birthday with his roommate and two special young women from Olson Hall; shake #28, the Chocolate Orange Peel, was eaten with other personnel assistants (PAs). Young says this particular flavor “represents the makeup of the Wengatz PAs: very sweet, but a unique combination of ordinary guys trying to serve an extraordinary God.” Young hopes the 100 Club will continue to encourage an opportunity to build friendships while eating a variety of unique flavors. He adds at the end, “Even after all those shakes, I’m still a slim 165.”
In spite of the hundreds of choices, one flavor remains a favorite. The order for mint chocolate chip remains among the most popular for the Taylor community. As many as 40 tubs a week are ordered. Slain relays the humorous story of how new delivery drivers think a mistake has been made when they see over 30 tubs of mint chocolate chip ordered for the small Upland store.
So what is in store for Ivanhoes in the next 35 years? Running Ivanhoes has been a full time job for the Slains. “My wife and I have put our lives into it nearly seven days a week, open to close,” says Slain. He anticipates his son Mark, one of the present managers, will take over the business some day.
One thing is for certain though; as long as Ivanhoes remains, Taylor people will continue to come and go just as they have been for the past 35 years. Whether they are new students arriving on campus for the first time, campers taking a break from a hard work-out, or residents enjoying a treat, new memories will form and old ones will remain as friends gather to dine at a little restaurant called Ivanhoes.