The Sweet Retreat: Here are this Dayton ice cream shop’s 3 most popular flavors

Manager Isabel Dilger offers several menu hacks.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

The Sweet Retreat, an ice cream shop located about 10 minutes from downtown Dayton, has reopened for the season offering more than 30 flavors of soft serve, nearly 20 hand-dipped ice cream flavors and several specialty sundaes.

Manager Isabel Dilger, who has been an employee at the ice cream shop since they opened in August 2018, believes The Sweet Retreat stands out because it’s locally owned, operated and sourced.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Of those more than 30 flavors, the most popular hand-dipped ice cream includes Buckeye Fever, Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel and Campfire Smores.

Locally owned and operated

Owners Chris Tobias and Simon Wiley are graduates of Carroll High School and have been friends for years. Dilger said they both had always wanted to open an ice cream shop.

Tobias owns a restaurant equipment repair and parts business and Wiley owns a painting business. The two entrepreneurs didn’t know much about operating an ice cream shop, but “over the last seven years they’ve been figuring it out with us,” Dilger said.

The seasonal ice cream shop, that typically opens in April or May and closes in late September or early October depending on weather, hires many local high school students. Dilger grew up down the street and recalled her mom telling her that a new ice cream shop was opening in the former Dairy Queen location in Dayton’s Belmont neighborhood. At that time, she was in high school and looking for a summer job.

“Chris and Simon are two of the most selfless people I’ve ever met,” Dilger said.

They’ve given her many opportunities to learn and grow in the hospitality industry, which has been beneficial especially after graduating from Sinclair Community College with an associate’s degree in hospitality management and tourism. She continues to work at The Sweet Retreat seasonally and has a job at The Brightside Music & Event Venue in Dayton as a venue coordination assistant.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Dilger said many of their employees stay three to four seasons because it’s hard to walk away from a job that you love.

It’s all about the ice cream

The ice cream shop sources its soft serve from Prairie Farms Dairy, headquartered in Illinois with a local facility in Huber Heights. The hand-dipped ice cream comes from Johnson’s Real Ice Cream in Columbus.

The Sweet Retreat has 34 flavors of soft serve this season with popular flavors such as Peanut Butter, KI Blue, Pistachio Nut and German Chocolate. Unique offerings include Banana, Amaretto and Maplenut. With so many flavors, the ice cream shop only has two soft serve machines. Each flavor is hand-mixed. Dilger described their soft serve as having a higher fat content making it more creamy.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Dilger said they offer hot fudge and candy sundaes, but what really stands out are their specialty sundaes.

“The really cool thing about our specialty sundaes is that we have a sundae competition each year. All of the sundaes that are (on the menu) are sundaes that were chosen by our customer base,” Dilger said.

The most popular specialty sundae is the Peanut Butter Heart Attack featuring Buckeye Fever ice cream, peanut butter sauce, Reese’s peanut butter cups, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Dilger made a specialty sundae years ago that remains on the menu called The Cookie Monster Sundae. It features KI Blue ice cream, Chips Ahoy cookies, Oreos, whipped cream and candy eyes. Hot fudge is optional.

Other offerings include ice cream nachos, cyclones, milkshakes, slushies and artic blasts. They also have homemade waffle bowls.

The ice cream shop does not have Dole Whip at this time, but they do have several other dairy-free options, Dilger said.

Menu hacks

She offered two menu hacks for those planning to stop by the ice cream shop.

“The thing that people don’t really realize all the time is since we do hand-mix all of the flavors, you can mix up to three flavors,” Dilger said. “It won’t come out like a chocolate, vanilla twist, but if you wanted a strawberry cheesecake blend it will be blended together.”

Another hack is with the artic blast — a slushie with Vanilla, Chocolate or KI Blue soft serve in it. Dilger said customers can get it blended together.

Something new the ice cream shop is offering this season is a build-your-own option for sundaes and nachos.

More details

The Sweet Retreat, located at 2613 Smithville Road in Dayton, is open 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday. The ice cream shop officially opened for the season on May 8. Hours are expected to expand once school is out.

The ice cream shop operates via drive-thru or walk-up. The inside is not open for customers. For more information, visit the ice cream shop’s Facebook page (@thesweetretreatdayton).

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