Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Chill out on those hot summer days with a NOLA Snowball

July 09, 2020 | Business
Courtesy photo – Nolan Simon, owner and founder of NOLA Snowballs, left, and Bryan Gomez-Garcia, both 15, help customers May 22 as they serve New Orleans-style snowballs outside Panther’s Gate Metaphysical Center.

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

A stop at the NOLA Snowballs cart is like taking a trip to New Orleans for snowballs made out of handmade snow and a long list of flavors.

Berthoud native Nolan Simon, 15, opened the cart in June 2019 to bring that New Orleans twist to his hometown. He named his cart NOLA in reference to New Orleans, Louisiana, a place he visited as a child.

“My machine actually produces snow, not crunchy ice,” said Simon, owner and founder of NOLA Snowballs and a rising 10th grader at Berthoud High School. “It’s like snow scooped off your yard.”

There are 25 syrup flavors for the snowballs, which are served in sizes ranging from small to large and are described as the “fluffiest, sweetest, high-quality snowballs.”

The flavors include a few customer favorites like wedding cake, Tiger’s Blood, blue raspberry and cherry. Other flavors include ice cream, chocolate, bubble gum, Cajun red-hot, King Cake and a variety of fruits, such as Georgia peach, mango, watermelon, strawberry and pineapple. For a richer taste, there are two toppings for an extra 50 cents of cream and condensed milk.

“The toppings make it New Orleans style. It makes it taste a little bit more like ice cream,” Simon said.

Simon operated his cart June to September last year and opened it up again at the end of May this year. He is following the county’s COVID-19 guidelines for wearing masks and keeping 6 feet of distance between customers.

“It went amazing. The community was very supportive and everyone thought it was a great idea, so I started it up again this year,” Simon said. “This summer has been much better than last summer.”

NOLA Snowballs consists of a cart with a tent and table where Simon keeps spoons, straws and napkins. He uses biodegradable products when he can, including biodegradable Styrofoam serving cups to keep the snowballs cold.

“I care about the planet and the planet’s health,” Simon said.

Simon operates his cart three to four days a week, weather dependent. He doesn’t have a set schedule of days, but when he is open, he generally serves 2-8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. He posts his openings a week in advance on his Facebook business page.

The cart’s main location is in front of Panther’s Gate Metaphysical Center, 357 Mountain Ave. Additional sites include local farmers markets, special events and nonprofit activities. So far, the cart has been at Berthoud Habitat for Humanity, Grace Place’s annual father-daughter dance and Journey of Strength and Hope, or JOSH.

“I enjoy meeting new people and having conversations with them when business is slow and they’re sitting under the tent,” Simon said. “I also enjoy running a business.”

Simon has one employee, Bryan Gomez-Garcia, also 15.

“My favorite thing about working at NOLA Snowballs is getting to spend time with my good friend, Nolan, and having a job to earn some money to put toward something in the near future, hopefully a golf cart,” Gomez-Garcia said.

Simon’s father is from New Orleans, and he used to enjoy snowballs as a child, Simon said. Simon took a trip to Texas last summer and saw teenagers selling snow cones at the end of nearly every block.

“I thought it would be a great idea for Berthoud,” Simon said.

Simon purchased the cart, snowmaker and other equipment with a $3,000 loan from his grandparents. He plans to study business in college and is saving for a car and college tuition, unless he earns a scholarship.

“I love the experience it gives me, the real-world customer service,” Simon said, adding that he wants to thank the Berthoud community for being supportive.

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