It feels like summer: Kona Ice brings island treats to the Rockies |

It feels like summer: Kona Ice brings island treats to the Rockies

Karl Vogelbacher serves up one of the Kona Ice truck's krafted shaved ice treats.
Lance Maggart /

Summer in Grand County was relatively hot this year, but visitors and locals alike found a reprieve from the heat thanks to a recent new business venture.

Started this summer by husband and wife team Karl and Gabriella Vogelbacher, Kona Ice is a franchise business offering shaved ice with a kaleidoscope of colorful flavors, from a mobile Kona Ice truck. The Kona Ice franchise was meant to provide the quintessential summer treat at select events and public gatherings.

“We call it a tropical island on wheels,” said Karl Vogelbacher. “We serve shaved ice. We call it the finest shaved ice this side of the island.”

The Voegelbachers originally hail from Switzerland, though the couple has lived in the United States for over two decades, including roughly 13 years in Grand County. They have four children, all of whom were born in the country.

For the uninitiated, shaved ice, or shave ice, is a traditional treat from the Hawaiian Islands that has become popular throughout the rest of the nation in recent years. Shaved ice is similar to a snow cone, but the ice granules of shaved ice, produced through an ice shaving machine, are smaller than those found in snow cones.

The smaller ice granules produce a lighter and fluffier product more comparable to actual snow.

According to its advocates, the texture and consistency of shaved ice is better at retaining flavored syrup, rather than seeping to the bottom of the vessel.

Offerings from the Kona Ice truck are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. The truck also offers dye-free flavors, as well as sugar-free flavors for customers.

The truck sells shaved ice with an assortment of flavors, which come in two different forms. Customers can order a prepared shaved ice from the truck’s “krafted” menu that includes a dozen different choices such as Mai Tai, watermelon mint, passion fruit and blackberry mojito.

The truck also has a make-your-own-flavor station, called the Flavorwave, which offers 10 additional flavor choices such as Tiger’s Blood, Monster Mango and Pina Colada. Customers can mix multiple flavors from the “krafted” menu together into one shaved ice treat and additional flavors can be added at the Flavorwave station.

Kona Ice of Peaks and Valleys, the name of the Vogelbacher’s specific franchise, covers all of Grand County. Their business territory also extends up to Steamboat Springs and throughout the I-70 corridor, from Idaho Springs to Grand Junction.

The Vogelbachers highlighted the atmosphere created by their truck as one of the elements that draws in customers.

The truck includes steel drum background music, reminiscent of an island atmosphere, and includes a device that pumps into the air the scent of fresh sunscreen. The truck itself is a type of moving billboard, emblazoned with the Kona Ice penguin and the visage of a bamboo shack.

Unlike the ice cream trucks many remember from their childhoods, the Kona Ice truck does not cruise the side streets and neighborhoods of Grand County. Instead, the Vogelbachers, who both have other jobs, take the Kona Ice truck out for special events and large public gatherings. The truck was a regular site this summer at events at Hideaway Park in Winter Park and also showed up for Back to School Night at both Granby Elementary and East Grand Middle School, along with appearances at Friday Nights at the Lot held throughout the summer in Granby.

The Vogelbachers plan to continue operating the Kona Ice truck at specific events this year until the onset of winter weather. Gabriella Vogelbacher said the truck would likely halt operations in November and resume again next year once warmer weather returns.

The Kona Ice truck is able to be booked for parties, fundraisers and private events. To book the Kona Ice of Peaks and Valleys truck for an event, contact the Vogelbachers at (970) 531-7161.

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