Kline’s Dairy Bar is a family-owned, homemade, custard-style ice cream shop that holds secret recipes for making the perfect tasty scoop and connecting with the community, and bringing individuals together in a way only ice cream can seem to do. Owned by Kim Arehart, the Waynesboro Kline’s Dairy Bar has been a well-loved location since 2008 after an extended family business history originating in the mid-twentieth century.
In 1943, John Kline began Kline’s Frozen Custard with the help of his father while living in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The small ice cream shop was on the first floor of their family’s home, where relatives served customers through the window. There was no doubt from the beginning that Kline’s would be a big hit for the town’s residents, and it sure played out that way, proving to be a big success. When John passed in 1974, his wife, Bess, sold the ownership to Sam Fletcher, who then handed it off to Mike Arehart in 1979. Since then, the Areharts have been tending to the ice cream lovers of the Valley.
When Kim opened the Waynesboro location in 2008, she knew a thing or two about entrepreneurship, having gone to college to pursue accounting which led to an important decision between a personal accounting business in Charlottesville or sticking with her love for the family ice cream business. Kim says her drive towards an entrepreneurial spirit stems mainly from her personality and diligent work ethic.
Understandably, sweet comfort food such as ice cream kept the community alive during the challenging and dark days of the pandemic starting in 2020. In the beginning, Kim, like many other small business owners, was consumed with responding to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions while maintaining a business that relies on the community. Once her employees adjusted and a safety plan was in place, the team seemed to get “in the groove,” as Kim recalls, within a couple of months. It was then that the business realized how, in such uncertain times, the things that bring us comfort, like going to your favorite ice cream shop and a little bit of that normalcy, were so important to everybody. Kim’s business stood firm as a foundational pillar in the community during such a trying time for everybody and continues to do so.
Now for the most important question – how does Kline’s make their ice cream taste so incredibly good? Kim offers an inside scoop as to why Kline’s ice cream delivers an incomparable taste and why the recipe may be difficult to duplicate. The secret is the amount of air pumped into each batch of handmade ice cream each morning. While the quality of ingredients (artificial versus natural fruit, corn syrup versus sucrose, etc.) is a vital element of the result, the most significant difference you’ll find in ice cream is variations in the amount of air. For those familiar with the industry, this process is called “overrun;” it’s a percentage of what the machine is whipping into the product as it travels through different layers of the machine.
While the precision of air quality does improve the overall taste of each batch of ice cream, the flavor that is featured each week is brought to you by natural and authentic ingredients, thought up as combinations by Kim herself as well as relatives who have carried specific favorites through the decades. Kim also points out the reality of changing generations and the fact that now, as opposed to when the business first began, flavors like pistachio and butter pecan or butterscotch aren’t as typical because of the growing interest in candy pieces, chocolate bars, and cookie dough from the younger generations.
The uniqueness behind various nonrepetitive flavors each week is a quality that Kim is quite fond of. Certain flavors are more about the element of surprise, “Oh, I forgot how much I liked black raspberry!” after bringing it out after a period of absence. Even the beginning of seasonal flavors tends to be what changes our mindset; it gets us in the mood for upcoming holidays, especially in the Shenandoah Valley, where we get to experience each of the four seasons with ice cream flavors that match.
Because Kim prepared herself to become an entrepreneur as she grew up and went to school, she offers a bit of advice to others in her own words: “I always tell young people to try to get a little experience under somebody else. Maybe not go open up your own business yet, or your own trade or profession, go work somewhere else for a couple of years so that you can learn how to do it better. Then find yourself a mentor. It’s so great to have a mentor that can help you. There’s no sense in trying to do it alone. It’s hard. There’s so many people out there that enjoy helping and will help to mentor you. Then I would say planning, make sure you get your business plan together, figure out your resources, find your budget, figure out is it worth it to sink your whole life savings into it, or maybe it’s better to put your money in an investment portfolio. Understand you’re going to work hard. And then I would say, make sure you budget for signage and some cash flow. Many times I see small businesses start and then by the time they start, they have run out of money and so they can’t put up a nice professional sign and also have cash for some daily needs. And then that really hampers their ability to attract customers from the very start.”
Kim and the Kline’s team is also dedicated to giving back to the community with a long history of supporting affordable housing, childcare, and mental health initiatives. When further inquired, Kim stated “… I’m passionate about those things, because I feel they’re things that affect all of us. And even if they’re not affecting us or our families directly, it’s affecting us as a community and the people around us. And I care about people.” This authentic two-way relationship with the community has made Kline’s a cornerstone of Waynesboro for decades. Whether you’re looking for a delicious ice cream cone on a hot summer day, a local business that’s invested in making the community a better place to be, or a fun hangout spot to gather with friends and family, you’ll find it all at Kline’s, and we think that’s pretty special.
To get a scoop of the love we share for the community as well as the flavors we hand-make fresh for each day, drop by the Waynesboro Kline’s Dairy Bar to experience a tasteful sensation handed to you with a smile. Located at 1235 West Main Street, Waynesboro, VA 22980, Kline’s Dairy Bar welcomes you any day of the week.