Jodi's Italian Ice planning to open a Munster location

Jodi's Italian Ice Factory Manager Jesse Tillman serves an Italian ice to customer Nia Peterson at the shop in Hammond. The chain is going to open a new location on Calumet Avenue in Munster.

Jonathan Miano

A local chain of Italian Ice parlors is going to serve up its popular Philadelphia-style "water ice" in what was once a popular spot for frozen yogurt in Munster.

Jodi's Italian Ice Factory, which says it's the largest Italian Ice manufacturer in the Midwest, will move into the former Eyepad Optical that closed recently at 8313 Calumet Ave., in Munster. It's a location owners Brian and Jodi Tillman have had their eye on for some time.

The Munster residents saw the location as perfect for one of their East Coast-style "Italian lemonade" parlors. Frozen Yogurt Express had been located there before Eyepad. Frozen Yogurt Express, affectionately known as Fro-Yo in Munster, moved to a new strip mall just north of there a few years ago.

"We were always checking to see if they were still there, if they were staying in that location," he said. "Essentially, that's where we wanted to be. For what we do, a walk-up window is the way most of the stores are on the East Coast, where I'm from."

Jodi's Italian Ice also has stores at 7322 Calumet Ave. in Hammond and at 1718 Calumet Ave. in Whiting. The Italian Ice parlor is extremely active on social media and is known for flavors like lemon, Swedish Fish, green apple, Sour Patch, blue raspberry and mango.

The Tillmans go before the Munster planning commission on March 8, and hope they will get approval and open soon thereafter.

"We're basically returning it to what is was," he said. "We're going to put a walk-up window back in there and start serving our product. People will be familiar with the whole vibe. It's about family and fun."

Jodi's Italian Ice hopes to add picnic benches outdoors.

The chain has also decided to permanently close its Schererville location on U.S. 30, opting not to renew the lease to keep its overhead down.

Jodi's, a largely seasonal business, already opened the Whiting restaurant for the season and plans to reopen the Hammond location on March 21.

The new Munster location should be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/chicagoitalianice/.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.