Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the year Miko’s opened. The business opened in Logan Square in 1999. The article has been corrected.
Easter Sunday was an especially beautiful day, the end to a perfect Chicago weekend. And as always, Logan Square residents lined up to enjoy Miko’s Italian Ice (2236 N. Sacramento Ave.). It was their busiest day this year so far.
Miko’s Italian Ice has three locations, each with its own distinctive style. While the Irving Park location is more of a conventional storefront, the original Bucktown location is a cozy basement space. It’s accessible by stairs and feels like a soft-serve speakeasy.
The Logan Square location, on the corner of Belden and Sacramento, is so small one would walk right by it if not for the colorful outdoor lamps, birdhouses and the crowds.
I spoke with Zach Roombos, the founder’s son, who likes to show up early and prep for the afternoon rush at 2 p.m. We hung out while I ate a cup of passionfruit and raspberry mix, slowing my bites to avoid getting brain freeze.
“I’ve been helping out at this location since I was a kid,” Roombos said. “Since about age fourteen.”
The business started 20 years ago, but the Logan Square location opened in 1999. Roombos grew up in the neighborhood, helping out ever since. He is now a partner.
Roombos visits each location, making ice in the mornings, serving customers all day and stays late in the evenings to close and clean up for the next day. It may sound like a chore, but to him, it’s a labor of love.
“The neighborhood was rough back then, people thought we were crazy to open up a stand here. But the neighborhood has grown and we’ve grown along with it.”
It all started in 1997 when Zach’s father Miko “Mike” Roombos and his Uncle Rick worked in building rehabilitation and real estate. It was Labor Day — a blistering 90 degrees — and the two brothers were indoors installing drywall in a Bucktown fixer upper.
The local Italian Ice parlour was closed because summer was over. “What kind of business can afford to be closed four or five months out of the year?” they wondered. “There must be something to this.” And so the enterprise began.
After buying a handful of freezers and trying out flavors on friends and family, the business became Miko’s Italian Ice, now with 28 tasty flavors. The popular flavors this spring are lemon, coconut and mango.
The limited-edition button design will be out this summer, so be sure to follow Miko’s on Instagram and Facebook. You can also join their email list for the “Flavor Updates,” where Zach announces the coolest flavor of the day.
Then go out and treat yourself to a double scoop of sweetness.