Who doesn’t love ice cream? For more than 25 years, ice cream has been a favorite for the Brummer family. Mike and Melva Brummer are parents to Tyler and Austin and grandparents to six children. Today, Austin and Mike are the father-son duo that runs Armadillos Ice Cream Shoppe on the corner of 2nd Street and Main in Rapid City.
From an early age, Austin remembers fishing in Pierre every summer with the family. “After the fishing had ended, we would load the boat on the trailer, pull up to the hotel, unload the boat, and head out for ice cream at Zesto. It was my favorite part of the trip,” Austin reminisces.
“Armadillo’s has become a gathering place to reconnect, find old friends, make new friends, and just hang out.”
Through years of visiting Zesto for a sweet treat to complete the annual fishing trip, Mike got to know the owner of Zesto on a personal level. For years, Mike owned his own computer business, but he was ready for something new and fun as a “semi-retirement job.” Austin explains, “My dad finally convinced Rick, the owner of Pierre’s Zesto, to share his expertise and sell us the rights to the flavors and training.”
Choosing a name together, the family was looking through the Zesto menu when Melva suggested Armadillos — a chocolate ice cream dessert topped with peanut butter cone dip, chopped peanuts, and hot fudge. The unique name stuck, and from day one, the business has been very family oriented, a tradition they plan to continue.
Mike shares, “When we started, every Friday night was Brummer night, where my wife and I, with our two sons, would run the shop ourselves.” They would even sit around their table at home to quiz each other and compete to see who knew how to make the most menu items.
Of course working with family has its own unique set of challenges. “If we are in a disagreement about something, once we leave, we still see each other,” Austin says. Austin credits his respect for his father as the biggest factor that helps at the end of the day. He adds, “My dad is a great person and business owner. I learn more and more every day how to run a business from my dad. He is the genius that created this business, and I respect everything he has done.”
“The underlying motivation for everything we do is our Faith in God. We both make every decision for our business through the lens of ‘How do we honor God in how we run our business?’”
But the family extends beyond the Brummer bloodline at Armadillos. Austin proudly states that the employees become a larger part of the family and they are still in touch with some of the employees who started with the business 25 years ago.
Mike adds, “We have the best employees in town; they are all great kids. It’s a pleasure to be involved in their lives and to see them through high school and onto college.”
Besides great customers, the best employees in town, and the highest quality products, Armadillos offers truly unique flavor combinations for some of the cheapest prices in town. According to the Brummers, strawberry butter is the most popular flavor, while eggnog and pumpkin are some of the more unique seasonal flavors.
Most people think of sherbet as icy, but Armadillos secret, creamy, homemade recipe is a huge hit. “No one else has our sherbet,” Austin and Mike agree. Trying to get a flavor into the lineup takes a tremendous amount of work. “We sample and sample, redo, test, and start over so many times to just add one flavor. We have very high expectations, and if the flavor doesn’t meet that standard, then we scrap it,” they add. One of the most recent additions to the list is huckleberry, which according to the Brummers has been doing very well.
Not only do they offer your favorite sweet treats in a variety of flavors and combinations, but Armadillos also offers your favorite foods from soups and nachos to wraps, hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and their “world famous steamburgers.”
Written by Sarah Richards
Photos by Jesse Brown Nelson