Eat It, Virginia


Bubba’s Ice Cream back in business at new location

Bubba's Ice Cream
Posted at 9:51 AM, Jun 12, 2023

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — Bubba’s Ice Cream, a long-time beloved establishment that closed its North Main Street location for good last fall, is selling sweet frozen treats again at a new spot.

Owner John Arnone opened the business back up in May in a renovated former car wash building on Franklin Turnpike, next to Rubens Too restaurant.

Arnone likes the new location due to more traffic along Va. 41 than at the old North Main site.

“It’s been going real well,” he said during an interview at the business. “I thought it was going to be a good location and it has been.”

Bubba’s Ice Cream has been a local institution for Dan River Region residents since it first opened in Danville in 1959.

Thirty-nine-year-old customer Christina Holley has enjoyed Bubba’s Ice Cream since she was a small child.

“I like the banana split in a cup,” said the Blairs area resident, who brought her two daughters and their two friends along. “That’s my favorite.”

Bubba’s new location is more convenient for Holley, she said, adding that she was thrilled when it opened up.

“I was excited, my kids were very excited,” she said.

Dry Fork resident Amy Martin, 67, said she sees herself coming to Bubba’s more often now that she and her husband are retired.

Bubba's Ice Cream
Bubba's Ice Cream in Danville, Va.

“We like the chocolate shakes,” said Martin, who grew up in Danville and went to Bubba’s when she was a child. “That’s usually all I ever get.”

Arnone, who bought the business from the family of founder Clarence “Bubba” Barker in 2016, said last fall that property owner Roman Eagle Rehabilitation and Health Care Center wanted to tear down the Bubba’s building and turn the location into a parking lot.

Arnone had also been searching for an updated building for his business. The North Main location was old, outdated and inefficient for Bubba’s needs, he said last fall.

Bubba’s is now in a fully renovated building with much more space, a new walk-in cooler, new drop ceiling, new floors, a new heating-and-air system and a more-up-to-date look.

The establishment is loved for its soft-serve ice cream, banana split in a cup topped with homemade pecans in maple syrup and strawberry sundae and hot-fudge sundae.

Sales have been brisk since Bubba’s re-opened, Arnone said.

“Business is definitely up,” he said, adding that he has hired more employees. He has about 15 workers.

Memorial Day weekend was slower due to cool, rainy weather, but customer volume picked up again when the storm cleared Monday evening, Arnone said.

Though usually open seasonally from March through around Nov. 1, he said he’s not sure when Bubba’s will close for the upcoming season.

“Being that we got a late start this year, we’re going to play it by ear,” Arnone said.

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