ZANESVILLE, Ohio — When you have a long family history in the ice cream-making and restaurant industries like Joe Baker, you know where your destiny lies.
“I started getting into this because Tom was telling me about my own family. He said yeah, I used to work for your great-grandpa,” said Joe Baker, owner of Tom's Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville.
His mother's side of the family owned Hemmer Ice Cream Company from 1887 to 1942, the first retail ice cream seller in Zanesville.
Decades later, he would meet Tom Mirgon, the founder of Tom's Ice Cream Bowl. He started working for him at age 16, and 45 years later, he's known as Joe Baker the Ice Cream Maker.
“I like making ice cream. I think it's fun. I like the reaction on people's faces. It's something I like to do and something I really excel at,” said Baker.
Long-time patrons from near and far would agree.
“I always get my usual: A hot fudge sundae with crushed nuts, and we come here once a year, and this is a must-stop at Tom's,” said Zanesville native Terry Toll.
Baker said when it comes to batch freezing ice cream, it's Tom's attention to detail that helps the business stand out.
“You watch the ice cream freeze down. You watch the ice cream whip up. When it's ready, you take it out of there, add whatever you want to it. If you've waited too long, you can tell by the texture of the ice cream immediately,” said Baker.
Always adding to Tom's 35 ice cream flavors and toppings, Baker has also expanded the outdoor patio area to account for social distancing, and the space next door to the business is used for large parties.
Baker has also added a breakfast menu to go along with Tom's traditional burger and fries.
His hard work and attention to detail are paying off, as an Ohio Farm Bureau survey listed Tom's Ice Cream Bowl as the No. 1 favorite ice cream shop in Ohio.
“A bit honorable to me, because all the way back to Tom, Tom has represented Zanesville. The atmosphere that Tom created, to begin with, is paramount. People have been coming here since they were born. And their parents have come here since they were born. I mean you know you can't get enough of that,” said Baker.