The ‘Ice Bowl’ opens in Laker country

KEITH AND ELIZABETH Barzyk recently opened a Green Bay Packers-themed ice cream parlor, dubbed “The Ice Bowl.” Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

On Dec. 31, 1967, many Green Lake County residents likely tuned their radios and television sets to the Green Bay Packers’ record-setting third consecutive NFL Championship Game.

Prior to kickoff, a deep freeze had spread across Wisconsin, producing a negative 38 degree wind chill. 

Green Bay, coached by Vince Lombardi, went on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 on a last-second quarterback sneak from Packers’ legend Bart Starr. 

The contest propelled the Packers to a victory in the Super Bowl II two weeks later. The game has  largely been remembered as one of the best in NFL history, as it has been immortalized with the name, “The Ice Bowl.”

Today, Green Lake County residents are likely to witness a different sort of “Ice Bowl,” this time in the form of an ice cream parlor in Princeton.  

The Ice Bowl — at 725 West Main St. — opened Labor Day weekend, offering a little something for everyone. 

Beyond serving frozen custard produced by the Madison-based Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co., the eatery aims to provide a space for the community to come together on NFL Sundays and support the Green and Gold. 

The ice cream parlor will be open for every Packers game during the regular season, including Monday nights, and playoffs — if the team qualifies for postseason play. 

“There’s a lot of fun things that we’re looking into doing on game days,” said Keith Barzyk, who co-owns The Ice Bowl with his wife, Elizabeth. “If there are people who would like to do a game day tailgate, cookout with brats and burgers, we would love to set that up.”

The ice cream parlor’s man cave features a flat screen TV for watching football games and Packers documentaries, a replica Lombardi Trophy and enough memorabilia to give the team’s Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field a run for its money.

Joe Schulz photo

While the Ice Bowl has a Packers’ theme, the Barzyks want the business to be a welcoming place for those of all fandoms. 

“Whether you’re a Packers fan, a Bears fan or a Vikings fan, we’re OK with some game day rivalry, as long as it’s all in good cheer,” Keith said. “We just want to be a place for people to come together on game day and enjoy some football.”

In addition to hosting game day events, the eatery’s backyard offers a fire pit shaped like an ice cream cone, outdoor games and equipment for children to catch and release frogs.

The Ice Bowl is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m., as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The couple is planning to keep the eatery open through the football season, before taking a seasonal break during the winter and reopening in the spring with plans for kayaking and tubing events.

“In today’s society, there’s so much negativity and we really wanted to do something positive,” Keith said.

As a lifelong cheesehead, Keith has collected Packers memorabilia for as long as he can remember and he’s always dreamed of opening a business paying tribute to his favorite sports team.

In October 2019, he found an opportunity to pursue that dream when he saw a “For Sale” sign in the window of the All in Good Taste ice cream parlor in Princeton.

Because the property adjoins the Fox River, Keith envisioned people stopping for ice cream and a friendly atmosphere after kayaking or tubing.

He went home and pitched his idea to Elizabeth, who gave him the OK to purchase the property and begin working to convert it into a Packers-themed ice cream parlor. 

Before relocating to the Green Lake area several years ago, Keith was part-owner of a cookie company in Milwaukee. 

“I always wanted to move to this area because I’ve been spending my summers — since I was born — up at my grandparents’ place on Silver Lake,” he said. “I knew this was a good place to raise your kids, with good people. I just knew that I wanted my kids to grow up out in the country, like I did.”

So Keith and Elizabeth relocated to Princeton and quickly found full-time jobs in the area. 

Still, Keith missed his entrepreneurial pursuits and wanted to add something unique to the community, which is when he saw the “For Sale” sign on Main Street. 

After purchasing the property last fall, the couple began working on renovations. At the time, the building’s electrical work needed an overhaul, the furnace and air conditioner needed to be replaced and the roof’s shingles and gutters were in a state of disrepair.

“It wasn’t too much money-wise, but it took a lot of time and work. We had great contractors that were really helpful,” Keith said. “There were a lot of little things that needed to be done to get this place ready to open.”

Originally, the couple wanted to name the business “The Frozen Tundra.” After checking with the Packers organization, however, Keith and Elizabeth discovered that the team had the name trademarked. 

“So, I just started looking for other Packers-themed names that would make sense for an ice cream parlor,” Elizabeth said. “And when I ended up finding ‘The Ice Bowl.’ We just looked at each other and said, ‘That’s perfect.’”

The duo then worked to fill the establishment with Packers memorabilia, including cut-outs of the players, preserved front pages from the Green Bay Press-Gazette that showcase iconic moments in team history and various other collectibles.

“What you see here is probably only a quarter, to half, of all of the Packers stuff I own and this is only half decorated right now, but we’re getting there,” he said, noting there are plans to add replica Lombardi Trophies for each of the team’s Super Bowl victories.

Since opening, the positive response from the community has overwhelmed the Barzyks. They established a donation piggy bank, where customers can leave money for local organizations. 

Initially, the couple planned to donate the funds monthly or quarterly. However, it earned enough money to make a donation to the Neshkoro food pantry after just one weekend of business.

“We’ve been home bodies for so long, that it’s really rewarding to get to know people in Princeton and give back,” Elizabeth said. 

As far as the future of the business is concerned, the Barzyks hope The Ice Bowl grows into a successful establishment that provides cheeseheads a friendly place to gather on game days, while giving back to the community.