Serving as many as 60 different, delectable flavors, Taylor’s Dairy, 717 East Main Street, is an ice-cream lover’s paradise.
Just look at its list of specialties: Butter Pecan, Amaretto Cherry, Majestic Milky Way, Orange-Pineapple, Elephant Ear, Blueberry Muffintop, Birthday Cake, Caramel Coffee Latte, and something called Cow Tippin’ (vanilla ice cream with swirls of caramel and chunks of chocolate, with chocolate-shaped cows filled with caramel). And that’s just one sixth of Taylor’s current selection!
Kevin and Robin Melvin took over the business two years ago, buying it from Robin’s parents, Merrill and Lela Taylor, who owned and operated the east-side dairy for about a dozen years. The Taylors bought the store in 2003 from Gary and Vicki Linder.
Taylor’s Dairy is the current incarnation of a long line of businesses occupying the East Main Street location – Linder’s from 1986 to 2003, Painter’s Dairy from 1977 to 1986, Olwin Dairy from 1965 to 1986. Before that, it was the home of Swanfelt’s Grocery, the original occupant who built the one-story structure in 1892 as a meat market. Curiously, since 1965, each generation of the store displayed the “Burger Dairy Products” sign, a tradition the Melvins continue.
“It’s been there forever,” Kevin said of the sign that advertised the former New Paris, Indiana-based dairy that was first in the state to deliver milk to customers in gallon jugs. “And I like nostalgia.” However, he says he might change to a bigger Taylor’s sign in the future.
According to Kevin, none of Taylor’s predecessors specialized solely in ice cream. “They were all more grocery stores that sold ice cream,” he said.
Today, however, the floor is covered in a bold, black-and-white checkered pattern, and the walls are painted purple, green and orange, giving the store more of an ice cream parlor feel.
“It’s kind of a different little ice cream shop that you don’t see a lot of anymore,” he said.
As much as the customers love the ice cream, Kevin also serves chicken salad and hot dishes, such as Coney dogs, nachos, barbecue pork, and his homemade pot roast sliders, sloppy joes, and broccoli-cheddar and chicken pot pie soups.
“Most ice cream places close in the winter, but I’ve had enough people ask us to stay open,” he explained. “So, as long as people come in, I’ll stay open.”
Born and raised in Elwood, Kevin took an early retirement in the late 1990s. The Melvins know just about everyone in Elwood, he said, joking that they are related to half of them.
Working alongside Kevin and Robin are Brenda Standridge, who’s been with them 17 years, and their daughter, Sara Gregg. Since Sara took over the sign out front, she has enjoyed making passersby smile with amusing ditties, such as “I’m into fitness … I’m fitness this whole cone in my mouth.”
Taylor’s Dairy is open 11:00 a.m. to dark, seven days a week. Currently, the store stays open until 7:00 p.m. But as the days grow longer, Taylor’s will close a bit later. “Seems like once it gets dark, people are in for the night,” Kevin said, “so we close it up and go home.”
Stop in any day before dark and give your taste buds a treat. If picking out a flavor or two from a possible 60 choices is too daunting, don’t worry. Samples are always free.