Summer on ice: Longview businesses offer cold treats
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Summer on ice: Longview businesses offer cold treats

Jun 04, 2023

Walking into Renée's Sno-Balls and More is like walking into a summer memory.

It's cool inside this former Sonic at 1403 S. High St., where the air conditioner is already working against the rising heat of approaching summer.

In the background, the rhythmic sound of the machine used to shave ice for snow cones hums over the sound of the air conditioner.

Owner Renée Rusk or one the people who work for her pick up bottles of different flavors to fulfill a steady stream of orders for basic flavors such as grape and strawberry or flavor combinations for snow cones named, for instance, "Sponge Bob," with blue raspberry, cream cheese and pineapple; Wakanda Juice, with Mardi Gras king cake and creole cream cheese; or Spider-Man with pink bubblegum and blue coconut.

Renee Rusk owns Renee's Sno-Balls and More on South High Street in Longview.

Rusk said customers like the way she and her two employees — her daughter, Jailyn Rusk, and recent Longview High School graduate Janiyah Green — add flavor to their snow cones.

"Instead of going over, we go around," Rusk said, and she said customers tell her their snow cones are "so pretty" because of the way that layers the colors of the snow cone flavor. They also love how soft the shaved ice is, she said.

"It makes you feel good about yourself," she said of customers’ praise. "Presentation to me is a lot."

To the southeast, on Green Street, Sirgio's Sno-Balls & Snack Bar also is helping keeping South Longview on ice. The business’ namesake, Sirgio King, might be running the ice machine, or it might be his mother and the business’ owner, Shanequa Writt.

"It started out as his idea," when he was about 9-year-old, Writt said of her son. "He wanted a snow cone stand."

That was in 2006, and then the business at 1800 S. Green closed in 2017. It re-opened about a year ago. Her son has always loved snow cones, she said.

Shanequa Writt speaks about her business Sirgio's Sno-Balls & Snack Bar on Thursday June 1, 2023. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

King also teaches Zumba classes, his mother said, and she works at Home Depot part-time.

"It's fun sometimes," she said of working with her son, and laughed. "But sometimes I have to let him know who's the boss. It's his name, but momma is the boss."

Back at Renée's, Rusk recalled wanting to own a snow cone business beginning in childhood. She lived next door to a man who drove around and sold them, she said.

"He wouldn't let me work for him," she recalled, and she resolved then to one day own a snow cone business.

She said she used to drive to buy snow cones from Charlie's SnoBalls when it was in a trailer on Texas 31. The owner talked to her about how to get started in her own trailers.

Years later, in 2006, she did just that, launching her mobile business at Longview's Fourth of July celebration.

"It was a hit," Rusk said.

In 2016, she opened a permanent location in the former Sonic building and has continued to operate the mobile snow cone trailer as well.

"My daughter works here when she's out of school," Rusk said. "She's been helping me since she was 8. She knows how to do it all now."

Both businesses stay open year-round or near year-round and have expanded by offering other food as well — Renée's offers pickles and Kool-Aid pickles, different kinds of nachos, chili cheese dogs and Frito pie, while Sirgio's menu includes link and chicken sandwiches and beef or chicken nacho salads as well as pickles.

Writt said they’re adding a patio for parties that should be ready in mid-July, and her son will offer Zumba classes as well.

Sirgio's Sno-Balls & Snack Bar is open noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and Renée's Sno-Balls and More is open 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

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