Once and for all, people, it’s an ice cream cone.
The owners of Ice Cream Family Corner and Sandwiches at the busy intersection of South Pine Avenue and Southwest 17th Street say their two-month-old business is getting creamed because passers-by have mistaken their white-hooded ice cream cone mascot for a KKK protester.
Co-owner Jose Cantres says rumors are swirling on Facebook about the exact nature of the little vanilla cone, and employees heard through word of mouth that potential customers have steered clear of the shop to avoid the character.
Liza Diaz, who manages the store for Cantres and co-owner Jesus Diaz, said an employee at the bank where she does business told her a co-worker was so frightened by the white dollop patrolling the street corner that she called her husband crying and refused to drive through the intersection.
“One (customer) told me, ‘I had to think twice before coming in here because I thought it was KKK,’ ” Diaz said.
Interestingly, Diaz, who is from Puerto Rico, had never heard of the KKK before this controversy. She can’t even quite get her tongue around the name, referring to the white supremacist group as the “Ku Ku Klan” without a hint of irony or sarcasm.
Close up, the costume looks nothing like the white-hooded Klan garb that evokes such strong emotions. Its fluffy white top, flecked with colored sprinkles, curls slightly at its peak, and it sits atop a brown waffle cone.
But the costume tends to sag around the wearer’s shoulders, and the waffle cone is mostly obscured by the sign the mascot holds in front of him. So to a motorist who gets only a glance cruising past at 40 mph, it can — and apparently does — look like a menacing Klansman.
Although this corner location has been a graveyard for eateries over the years, mostly because getting into and out of the parking lot can be tricky, Liza Diaz believes the costume is to blame for the rocky road the shop finds itself on. The clientele, she said, melted away right after the mascot hit the street. Indeed, just before lunch Monday, there wasn’t a soul in the store except for a handful of employees.
Through it all, the partners have managed to maintain their good humor. The little ice cream cone no longer beckons to passers-by, and the owners have expanded their offerings — which already include Boars Head sandwiches, flan and what they call “the best Cuban” sandwich in town — to include Spanish cuisine.
“We’re a friendly environment, family-oriented,” Liza Diaz said. “We’re not (racist). We’re very friendly, very religious.”