Kansas family brings shaved ice to Bar Harbor
He is not in Kansas anymore, but Brian Schaper brought his snow cone business with him. Brrrr! Harbor, located in Town Hill, a village within Bar Harbor 12 miles south of Ellsworth, is just the second shaved ice franchise in Maine, and the Schapers — Brian, Mandie and their 4-year-old son Xavier — are on a mission to teach the state how a real snow cone tastes.
Brian has been in the snow cone trade since he was 12 years old, when his father, David, bought a defunct snow cone franchise in their hometown of Cherryvale, Kan. David ran several businesses, but the snow cone enterprise took off like no other, and the family began setting up snow cone shops all over the state. Brian and his two younger brothers eventually began to manage their own franchises.
In 2007, Mandie was wowed by the beauty of Acadia National Park when she came as part of a summer ministry. She planned to return to Maine the following summer, but began dating Brian instead.
The couple, who have traveled to 45 states together, returned to Acadia on vacation five years ago. When Brian’s profession came up in conversation, the B&B owner who was hosting the pair suggested that they open a snow cone shop in Maine. For Brian, the comment “planted the seed.”
In 2016, he sold his shaved ice franchise in Independence, Kan., and the family, which by that point included Xavier, moved to Mount Desert Island. Brrrr! Harbor opened on July 3, 2017.
To the Schapers’ surprise, one of their first challenges was helping Mainers understand the concept of shaved ice.
“Most people here don’t really know what shaved ice is,” Brian said. “People think it’s just crushed ice with syrup all at the bottom.”
Shaved ice at Brrrr! Harbor, on the other hand, has the texture of snow, with flavor dispersed throughout. As such, Brian has found the term “snow cone” to be a more useful descriptor.
Brrrr! Harbor offers more than 70 flavors, although nowhere near the 310 that Brian had built up at his Independence franchise. His father, always inventive, has over 600 flavors at his Pittsburg, Kan., location. At Brrrr! Harbor, the flavors use real sugar, and many are all natural.
“It reflects how we like to eat,” Mandie said.
Brian, who has had “unlimited access” to snow cones since he was 12, admits he doesn’t appreciate the treat like he used to. Mandie enjoys lavender, while Xavier prefers the strawberry flavor, with vanilla and cream.
The shop’s most popular flavor is blue raspberry; dill pickle and bacon are the two that the Schapers find the weirdest. Customers like to sample these, Brian said, but don’t typically order them.
Set back from downtown Bar Harbor, Brrrr! Harbor receives primarily a local crowd. Still, each customer is another chance for Brian to show off the craft he has been perfecting for nearly three decades — and to create a new shaved ice enthusiast.
Brrrr! Harbor is located at 1319 State Highway 102 in Town Hill. Tel: 801-1232.