The former Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli.
The former Lynn’s Chatterbox Cafe.
Someplace inside Oakwood Mall.
Somewhere in the River Prairie development.
Those were among the most mentioned guesses included in more than 600 comments by 5 p.m. Monday on Olson’s Ice Cream’s Facebook page.
That morning, the Chippewa Falls landmark launched big news on the social media site: “We are expanding to Eau Claire. And, you could win ICE CREAM FOR A YEAR!”
To win, those responding to the Facebook post had to guess where Olson’s Eau Claire location will be. People guessing correctly will be entered into a drawing, and three winners will be selected to take home a half gallon of ice cream every month for a year.
News of Olson’s coming expansion and the contest dominated Facebook Monday.
“Wonderful news!” Paul Stuart Schneider posted on Olson’s Facebook page. “Eau Claire and Altoona (welcome) you with open arms. You were a ‘treat destination’ when I was a little boy and continue to be as (I) turn 55. Looking forward to your opening.”
Jeremy Hunt, who co-owns Olson’s Ice Cream with his parents, Dan and Linda, wasn’t about to let the cat out of the bag, or maybe more appropriately half gallon out of the freezer, Monday about their new venture’s location.
“There were a lot of good locations that we looked at,” said Hunt, general manager of Olson’s, slyly, “but there was one that stood out.”
Even though he declined to divulge Olson’s soon-to-be second location, Hunt did confirm it will be in the city of Eau Claire, so Altoona’s River Prairie development is out of the running.
According to more than one Facebook poster, the former Smiling Moose site also is off limits.
“Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant is going there,” wrote Jeremy and Julie Pichler in a comment on Olson’s Ice Cream’s Facebook under the post announcing the new site and contest.
Other guesses on Facebook included Commonwealth Avenue near T.J. Maxx, South Barstow Street and Water Street.
“How about next to my house,” Michael Tourville wrote in a comment. “That would be great.”
Before lunchtime on Monday, Dan Hunt had a chance to read some of the comments, and seeing all the positive posts “was gratifying,” he said.
“We are so humbled at the fact that people think that highly of Olson’s Ice Cream,” he said, “and now, we get to share it with even more people, which will be fantastic.”
Albert J. Olson and his partner began making their “Homaid” ice cream in 1923 at the Knapp Dairy. Olson moved his family to Chippewa Falls 75 years ago and began making ice cream and processing milk at Olson’s Creamland Dairy.
The Olson family sold the business, which still operates in the same building today at 611 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls, to the Hunt family in 2007.
“I think we’ve always had plans to expand to Eau Claire,” Dan Hunt said. “Now seemed like the right time to do that.”
During his childhood, Dan recalled trips to Olson’s for ice cream, and when he became a father, he took Jeremy to the local landmark for a frozen treat.
“Weren’t trips to Olson’s part of everyone’s childhood for those who grew up in the Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire area?” Jeremy Hunt said.
The Hunt family plans to announce where Olson’s new Eau Claire location will be on Friday, Feb. 1, with the new location opening in May, Jeremy Hunt said.
All of the ice creams served at both locations will be made by hand at the Chippewa Falls store. With the expansion, some new offerings also will come. But, like the new spot’s exact whereabouts, the Hunts are keeping those on ice for now.