The dawn of ice cream stand season is a refreshing, sweet reminder that warmer, brighter days are ahead. The heavily anticipated opening of the vibrant Dairy Queen, at 1102 Abbott Road in South Buffalo, is typically one of the first businesses to open its doors, with many more local options not far behind.
Here's a calendar of the opening dates for nearly 25 stands and shops, focused almost exclusively on ice cream, across the Buffalo area. Some of the dates are estimates rather than exact dates, as the weather plays a role in when the business decides to open.
Kone King East, 117 Hamburg St., East Aurora: Feb. 7.
Dairy Queen, 8380 N. Main St., Eden: Feb. 8.
It's DQ's 80th anniversary.
Dairy Queen, 1102 Abbott Road. Feb. 15.
Kone King West, 865 Center Road, West Seneca: March 1 (free cone day).
Kone King plans to collaborate with more local businesses this year; Kaylena Marie's Bakery provided cannoli filling and Park Edge Sweet Shoppe sent sponge candy sticks for the busy West Seneca stand last year.
PJ Cools, 6160 Transit Road, Depew: March 1.
Will continue its cartoon/Disney character meet-and-greets twice each month.
Fran-Ceil Custard, 3411 South Park Ave., Lackawanna: First week of March.
The shop on the Blasdell-Lackawanna border has refined its menu over the last decade and will be standing pat.
Lake Effect Ice Cream, 1900 Hertel Ave.: Early March.
While this stand opens in early March, Lake Effect's original Lockport shop is open year-round. The ice cream butter lambs debuted last year will make a triumphant return for 2020.
[Related: Chicken wing ice cream among other clever Lake Effect releases]
Frey's Tasty Treat, 6186 S. Transit Road, Lockport: March 5.
Nanette Frey unveiled her plans for 2020, with the Lucky Leprechaun Milkshake (with a chocolate covered pretzel and mint cookies) added to the stand's robust menu, while the Bananas Foster sundae makes a return after a brief hiatus. The popular "I Pledge" event returns for a 10th year in July, where kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance for a free scoop.
Abbott Ice Cream, 381 Abbott Road: March 6..
Co-owner Ron Morris said the fresh banana pudding ice cream pie, topped with whipped cream and chocolate, will be offered daily this season.
[Related: Story behind Abbott Ice Cream's 2018 opening]
Main Street Ice Cream, 35 Main St., Hamburg: March 11.
Main Street has added flights of its handcrafted ice cream to its regular menu, as well as its well-received frozen hot chocolate drink. The stand has removed an awning and replaced it with a steel-covered patio for an extended season.
Green Acres Ice Cream, 4357 Broadway, Depew: March 12.
2 Scoops Ice Cream, 4626 Camp Road, Hamburg: March 13.
Owner Susan Szczypierowski teased new specialty sundaes and novelties for 2020, as well as new plays on her edible cookie dough. Ice cream tacos will return, too.
Silsby's Double Dips, 1418 S. Main St., Medina: March 13.
This will be the Medina shop's 10th season of business.
Amsdell Ice Cream, 3041 Amsdell Road, Hamburg: March 14.
Owner JoAnn Mohler teased chocolate-dipped nut cones, chocolate-covered bananas in a cone and Amsdell bars on a stick as three new items coming to the Hamburg shop this summer.
Major Cool Off, 361 Dingens St.: March 14.
Adrian's Custard, 2352 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island: Mid-March.
It's the second summer of Adrian's new brick-and-mortar digs. Adrian's bakes its own cookies for ice-cream sandwiches – filled with Perry's custard – as well as a vegan/gluten-free version.
Frosty's Ice Cream, 2424 George Urban Blvd., Depew: Mid-March.
Frosty's Ice Cream, 5500 Broadway, Lancaster: Mid-March.
De-Dee's Dairy, 8715 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls: Mid-March.
The Village Scoop, 318 Central Ave., Lancaster: March 18.
The Lancaster shop will debut an Afternoon Delight, a layered treat of custard and Dole Whip, as well as a cannoli shell filled with any flavor of custard and topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips.
The Pink Cow Ice Cream, 13119 Broadway, Alden: March 28.
The Pink Cow's 10th anniversary will debut a special treat – the salted malted cookie dough sundae – to be featured at the Sweet Tooth Festival.
Pam's Custard Corner, 2190 South Park Ave.: March 30.
Owner Pamela Scholl has teased a trio of new items, including a cheesecake delight, strawberry shortcake and a Mister Bar on a stick.
Nick Charlap's three seasonal locations (Angola, Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore): Will open by April, weather dependent.
Route 16 Ice Cream, 2820 Seneca St.: Tentatively April 1.
New this season is a monthly contest where kids can create, draw and name their own sundae. A few new sundae flavors have been added to the menu, along with a new awning and more lights.
Reid's Ice Cream Parlor, 130 Lake Ave., Lockport: April 3.
Reid's is getting trendier, debuting a vegan ice cream, based on an almond-milk swirl, as well as a bubble waffle cone. Bubble waffles are rare in Buffalo, but are becoming more common thanks to businesses such as Lucky Koi.
Hibbard's Original Custard, 105 Portage Road, Lewiston: First weekend of April.
Hibbard's will partner with the Village Bake Shoppe in Lewiston on a frozen custard sandwich. Operator Kris Trunzo also noted that a new flavor would be Big Barenaked Bang, a collaborative flavor with the Barenaked Ladies, coming July 7 to Artpark.
Chilly Billy's Ice Cream truck and cart, various locations: Around April 15.
The ice cream novelties will be consistent with last year's menu. Push cart service may be rented any time, however.
Armor Sweet Treats, 5020 Armor Duells Road, Hamburg: Late April.
The Hamburg shop will be featuring fresh, housemade doughnuts for the 2020 season, not long after the ice cream nachos that caused a stir back in 2018.
Big Sings, 6251 Goodrich Road, Clarence: Last weekend in April.
Not much new in 2020; Big Sings will continue to carry Dole Whip, which has been a big success.
Note: Sweets on the Hill at 1203 Union Road in West Seneca (Nick Charlap's), opened Feb. 1 after roughly a month off. The Boston location of Nick Charlap's (7264 Boston State Road), which also has indoor seating, opens March 1.
Missing information on:
• Hanna's Frosty Treats, 140 Taunton Place.
• RJ's Ice Cream, 6622 Lincoln Ave., Lockport.
• Bryce's Ice Cream, One Naval Park Cove.
• HoJack Ice Cream Shack, 151 N. Main St., Lyndonville.
• James the Ice Creamcycle Dude, various locations.
• Route 20 Ice Cream, 2783 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park.
Did we miss a seasonal stand or shop opening? Please email email@example.com with the details.
The opening dates for multipurpose stands – featuring grilled and fried foods, as well as ice cream – will be posted in March. Their openings are typically later than the ice cream-only shops.