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People travel ‘Over the Rainbow’ for ice cream

Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 4:20 p.m. CDT
(Joe Sinopoli -
He may not be the Great and Powerful Oz, but Michael Stebbins serves a mean scoop of ice cream at Over the Rainbow on Windsor ice cream shop in Berwyn's up and coming Depot District. Stebbins and his partner, Jose Ramirez, picked the site of the business seven years ago while walking their dogs.

BERWYN – There’s something you need to keep in mind when you enter Over the Rainbow on Windsor ice cream shop in Berwyn – owner Thomas Stebbins has flying monkeys and he knows how to use them.

There’s a sign on the wall that says so.

Stebbins and his partner, Jose Ramirez, have been scooping ice cream into cones and cups for seven years under the watchful eye of iconic characters like Dorothy, the Lion, Tinman and the Scarecrow. The shop gets its name from, of course, The Wizard of Oz.

Stebbins said he worked in the food service industry for 15 years and was getting burned out.

“We were walking around, walking our dogs, and saw there was a need for an ice cream shop in the area,” he said.

They passed by 6836 Windsor Avenue, a vacant storefront that once was home to a Chinese restaurant. The saw right through the garish yellow paint that covered the place and the jumble of kitchen appliances inside. Stebbins and Ramirez went to work and transformed the storefront into their vision of what an ice cream shop should be.

“We kind of modeled the shop after Brown Cow in Forest Park, but they’re in a different location now,” Stebbins said.

They chose “The Wizard of Oz” theme as their decor. Posters, photos, figurines and other memorabilia cover the walls. If you didn’t get it before, you’ll get it when you walk in.

Most of the stuff has been given to us,” Stebbins said. “A lot of people don’t get the connection until they walk in.”

Inside, the shop serves Hershey’s ice cream from Pennsylvania. There’s also frozen bananas, frozen Twinkies and “Puppsicle” dog treats.

This year’s new flavors include Salted Caramel Truffle, Moon Pie, Peanut Butter Pretzel and Soy Chocolate.

But at the top of the list of customer favorites are Blue Moon and Superman flavors, which apparently aren’t that easy to find.

“I actually had a man drive in from Indiana this winter to get Superman flavor for his fiance,” Stebbins said.

And then there’s Mangoneda, a Mexican frozen delicacy of mango ice with a savory kick provided by chili powder, chamoy sauce made from pickled fruits and lime juice.

Stebbins had high praise for the Morton High School students that round out the work roster in the busy hot weather season.

“For as much flack as Morton kids get, we’ve had very good, well-rounded kids who have worked here and then gone on to college,” Stebbins said.

As for the Depot District and its ongoing renaissance, Stebbins is optimistic.

“For the most part, I think the businesses here are here for the long haul,” Stebbins said.

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