By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
NORTH BALTIMORE — North Baltimore’s Daily Queen has five flavors of soft-serve ice cream, 16 different milk shakes, 17 sundaes and 14 arctic blasts, but owner Marjorie Barnhisel Reynolds prefers a classic treat: a hot fudge sundae topped with pecans.
Her daughter, Rhonda Nye, on the other hand, isn’t all that fond of ice cream. Instead, she tends to pick a different favorite every summer. This year it’s chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping.
“I don’t tend to crave it that much. She does, though,” said Rhonda, nodding toward her mother.
“I’m of the old school,” Marge said, matter-of-factly. “I like ice cream, period.”
The two women have simple tastes, but as owners of this long-standing North Baltimore landmark, they’ve learned that everyone likes something different.
The iconic mom-and-pop ice cream shop, located at 130 S. Main St., has been operated by the family for 58 years. It’s the place in town to stop for a summertime treat, whether it’s a shredded chicken sandwich using Marge’s secret recipe, a frosty chocolate milkshake or a cone piled high with swirls of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream.
“You’re serving a product that usually makes people happy, and it’s a treat and it’s fun,” Rhonda explained.
An eatery has stood at this location since the 1940s when Norman Eiseman built the white brick building and called it the Hamburger House. He later sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Martin O’Dell, who changed the name to the Daily Queen and switched from hamburgers to ice cream. (One of the slogans still in use is “So good you’ll come back daily,” which explains the name, said Rhonda.)
Marge’s folks, Fred and Helen Barnhisel of rural Cygnet, bought the business in 1959.
“He was a farmer, but he wanted something extra,” Marge said of her father.
Marge and her husband, Tom Reynolds, helped her parents in the shop. And when Rhonda was born in 1960, they brought her to the restaurant, too.
“We’d come up and get it ready for my folks, my husband and I,” Marge explained. “We’d bring her along as a baby and gave her a little ice cream, and she was 3 months old. She probably shouldn’t have had it.”
In 1969, the couple bought the shop from Marge’s mother, and partnered with Tom’s parents, Eldon and Esther Reynolds. Tom’s sister, Karen Downs, and her husband, Bob, were also part of the business for several years.
Marge is still the primary owner with Rhonda and her husband, Mike Nye, assisting with the day-to-day operations.
“One side or the other of my family has had it for nearly 60 years,” said Marge.
The Daily Queen’s season runs from April through early September. Hours are 2-9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 1-9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Many of the shop’s employees are high school students and live in the area. Some continue working there even after starting college.
“We had one, I think, that stuck with us for 14 seasons,” said Rhonda. “She was basically a manager.”
Jim Anderson also worked as the day manager for many years. At the time, Rhonda was still teaching art at Van Buren High School and her parents were traveling with the Masonic Lodge, as Tom was the Grand Master of Ohio in 2002.
The Nyes are able to devote more time to the shop now, since Rhonda retired in 2017 after 32 years of teaching. And Mike is retired from the University of Findlay, where he was in charge of maintenance and grounds.
The trio aims to offer a little bit of everything on the Daily Queen’s menu. There are traditional favorites like hot dogs and coneys, along with nachos and cheese and a hot pretzel. But it’s the ice cream that remains the attraction on a hot summer day. Customers can choose from white, chocolate and twist, orange sherbet and orange and vanilla soft-serve ice cream.
Vanilla is probably the most popular, said Mike, and chocolate is the preferred shake flavor, added Marge.
Arctic blasts are also popular and feature ice cream mixed with candy, fruit or nuts. Options include Reese’s cups, smore’s and even lemon pie.
“We play and come up with flavors. The girls are also a good inspiration,” said Rhonda.
“Sometimes they suggest something and we won’t believe them until we try it, like Tootsie Roll,” added Mike.
This taste treat involves layering orange sherbet with chocolate ice cream.
“It tastes just like a Tootsie Roll,” Rhonda said. “It’s amazing.”
They’ve also started letting the employees make their own recommendations about what to feature for the day.
“That’s kind of cool because then you can promote different treats that maybe people don’t think about all the time,” said Rhonda. “One day we had a brownie sundae and we almost sold out of brownies. If people see a banana split go out the window, then the next one will want that. It’s like a chain reaction.”
They also introduced something called the “cookie bomb” this year. The concoction features 4 ounces of cookie dough in a bowl covered with ice cream, a topping and whipped cream.
And people have even been known to request their own mixtures of ice cream and toppings.
“We think people stay awake at night just dreaming up what they can ask for,” Rhonda laughed. “They come up with some pretty wild combinations.”
For some, visiting the shop is often less about the food and more about seeing what’s happening in town.
“I mean, we feel bad if people have to wait for their product. But some of them I think just come up to socialize,” Rhonda said. “It’s the thing to do.”
Customers also talk about special memories they have of the place.
“Like on Good Old Summertime Day which is at the end of the month, it’s a big celebration of the town. I mean, people will come back and they will just come back to visit this place,” said Rhonda. “They’ve just had so many good memories here as a kid. It’s like if you return to see your school. It’s always a good memory.”
She hopes the family can keep the shop going for many summers to come.
“Part of it is the legacy of it,” she said. “I think it’s just so vintage. I think it’s cool to have something be this long-standing and to be part of that. It’s a fun business.”
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Scholarship initiative is the cherry on top of Tom Reynolds Day
By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
NORTH BALTMORE — Tom Reynolds Day will be celebrated from noon to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Daily Queen.
Reynolds formerly owned the ice cream shop along with his wife, Marjorie, and died in 2008.
“Every year since Dad passed, we decided to kind of have our own fundraiser toward a scholarship,” said Reynolds’ daughter Rhonda Nye, who assists with the shop’s day-to-day operations.
Profits support the Reynolds-Rader Biology Scholarship, which benefits a Findlay High School student who plans to study biology or a science- or medical-related field in college. The event was started in 2009 and has provided a $500 scholarship each year since.
The day features lunch specials, a drawing for a gift basket and small tokens of appreciation for customers.
“A lot of people in town remember him, so they’ll come up,” said Nye.
Reynolds’ career included 36 years as a teacher at Donnell Junior High School, where he taught math and science, and Findlay High School, where he was a biology teacher. He retired in 1995 but continued teaching at the University of Findlay. Reynolds was named the “Ohio Outstanding Biology Teacher” in 1978, and received the university’s “Varsity F Educator Award” in 1984.
He coached the Findlay High School Golf Team for 21 years. The team won the state championship in 1984 and Reynolds was inducted into the Ohio High School Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1990.
He also coached Little League and was a Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader. He was a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Churches. Reynolds was a member of the Masonic Lodge and served as Ohio’s Grand Master of Ohio in 2002.
Mike Nye said his father-in-law enjoyed the summers he spent working at the Daily Queen.
“He put in a lot of hours in the summer in front of that window,” said Nye. “And if a kid came up and didn’t have enough money, he still got ice cream.”