How the Dream Began
How the Dream Began
The vision to create Arctic Ape Wild Desserts came from the life experiences of the owners and a desire to improve our little corner of the world.
Ron Witcher has been fascinated with primates since his first encounter with live ones on a school field trip to Zoo Atlanta, in 6th Grade (1964). He was particularly enamored with the Great Apes. He was impressed with their intelligence and distressed by the small habitats and lack of enrichment provided by zoos back then.
About the same time as the field trip, his first job was a carhop at a drive-in restaurant, which sold soft serve ice cream treats among the other usual fare.
He entered the Army in 1972, which took him to Washington, where he visited Point Defiance Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo. These were some of the first zoos in America to expand habitats and make them more natural. Both of these zoos serve vital roles in preserving endangered species and educating children on environmental impact. Since then, Ron and family have been members of zoos where they lived in the United States, and visited zoos and animal sanctuaries all over the United States, and Europe.
Cathy’s first job was in an Arizona Ice Cream Shop. They met on a blind date at a Roller Skating Center in Washington and have been married for 40 years. As they raised 5 children, they became great fans of Disney and themed restaurants. 10 years in Germany reacquainted them with family time and ice cream shops.
After Ron’s government career in hospitality, and Cathy’s government career in Youth Services, they retired to Windcrest, because of the warm climate, the Christmas decorations, the proximity to all the great things that happen in San Antonio, and of course, the world class San Antonio Zoo. Later, they became aware or Primarily Primates.
Ron and Cathy starting thinking about what they could do in retirement, that could have an impact on quality of life in the community and could support animals that were endangered, abused, or just not living in their wild, natural habitat. Starting a small business was the answer. The requirements for the business were that it had to: be fun, leave no one out; add something to the community; be different from existing stores; offer an educational and entertaining environment; encourage family interaction; provide a meeting place for date nights or friends to visit; have customer conveniences; offer healthy food choices; allow a fund raising capability for non-profits that support youth and animals; and, help support the residents at Primarily Primates and the SA Zoo in new and innovative ways. Also, the store and decorations had to be so striking (from every aspect) that first-time visitors immediately wanted to start taking pictures and would want to show their visitors from other cities.
Ron, Jr. has been involved in customer service for 20 years, with 13 years in food service, and is a certified Pastry Chef. Based on customer requests, his culinary knowledge and consultations with the Arctic Ape’s notes, he selects flavors and flavor combinations for the machines, shakes, and mixtures of unique frozen treats. The Arctic Ape’s Arctic Fusion machine allows combinations of any flavors and toppings to create your one of a kind dessert.
The business search started with a long-time friend's recommendation, to develop a frozen yogurt business, because of what they had seen in their hometown. The management team started visiting stores and manufacturing facilities, here and in other States. They attended training with the manufacturers and began analyzing operations and store locations, suppliers, manufacturers and products. Throughout this research, it became clear that we had to be more than just a frozen yogurt shop, and had to include many soft serve product options.
The name search began. Ron’s fascination with Great Apes meant it had to include monkeys or apes. The store would be serving mostly frozen desserts, so the name had to have something to do with cold. Since none of the existing primates really matched the concept or had already been used by other companies, it made since to turn to cryptozoology for a new breed – The Arctic Ape was discovered and moved to Windcrest at precisely the right time.
Once the Arctic Ape name was chosen the shop design was centered around him and the desserts. From the original Arctic Ape in his research room, to his artifacts, to the color scheme and design of the shop, to the special decorations, to the electronic displays, everything is thematic. It is always snowing outside the lab window and the it’s the only place in Texas, where you can see the Aurora Borealis, nightly.
As our reviews indicate, our fans love the ability to create exactly the right size of dessert with their choice of ingredients. They get excited over our customer service, the quality of our cold treats, the freshness of our toppings and the seemingly endless combinations. The options for customers with dietary concerns, decorations, family games, free WIFI, charging stations and Rockbot are just the whipped cream and cherry on top of their creations.
Our loyal customer base and their testimonials are responsible for our success. Without them we would not be here, today. Almost daily, we hear first-time visitors calling others to tell them about the amazing store that they discovered.
In the future, we want everyone that visits, are just driving through, or lives in San Antonio, to experience the Arctic Ape difference. On the horizon, we are mapping out an expansion plan in order to achieve our shared dreams.
Arctic Ape Wild Desserts is owned and operated by Arctic Ape, Inc. A veteran, and family owned and operated Texas Corporation.