Ice Castle, Dalton GA

Earlier this year, while looking for some background information about the Kay’s and Kay’s Kastles chains – see our post about the lone remaining Kay’s Kastles, north of Chattanooga – I came across a really fun site called Roadside Architecture, whose owner has a great hobby that we can all appreciate: driving all around the country taking photos of silly old signs and novelty architecture. That sounds like too much fun for words.

Digging around her site, I learned that there was another old Kay’s Kastles sign still in use. Just as Mr. T’s in Chattanooga kept the old giant ice cream cone, another can be seen at Ice Castle in Dalton. This became a must-stop on our way back from town, having successfully obtained several new kids’ books for the baby at McKay. Google Maps sent us the silly way, but it gave us the chance to see what there is to see should you exit three miles north of Dalton’s main thoroughfare, Walnut, and loop around east of the city. Sadly, the answer would be “apparently nothing.”

At any rate, we spotted the unmistakable ice cream cone after a few minutes.

The owner, Cindi Brown, was not in when we stopped by her restaurant, and the girl working the register was unsure where the sign came from, so I phoned her a few days later to get the story about her scoops. She told me that the present location was not actually originally a Kay’s Kastles. Dalton did indeed have one in the 1960s and 1970s, but at a different strip shopping center. It closed down and the giant ice cream sign found a bizarre new home laying in a field somewhere.

In the early 1990s, Annie Talbot and her husband bought the old sign and attached it to its present home. Their place, called Annie’s Scoop & More, did not last but a few years before they sold it to Mrs. Brown in 1997. She gave it a new name that evoked the klassic Kastle’s brand, and has been serving up gigantic scoops, along with sandwiches and other deli treats, quite successfully for fifteen years.

Ice Castle serves up Greenwood brand ice cream, so it actually appeals to me more than the remaining Kay’s Kastles, which serves Mayfield instead. I’m aware that Scottie Mayfield, president of that company, probably doesn’t see eye to eye with me politically. That’s fine; many very good men and women don’t. But Mayfield ran such a nasty, negative, hateful, and ultimately unsuccessful primary campaign against incumbent Republican Chuck Fleishmann in Tennessee’s 3rd District this summer that it has tarred the legacy of his company’s ice cream with me, and I’d really, really rather not pay for any more of his food.

Besides, Greenwood tastes better. Fact.

And they do not scrimp on the portions at Ice Castle. I had a Cookies and Cream malt, and there was barely any room in the mixing cup for the milk, leaving an incredibly thick shake behind. Marie had a sundae and our daughter a three-scoop cup and neither of them could finish. We got astonishingly good value for money here, and recommend guests order accordingly! It is not right off the interstate, but rather a straight shot about seven or eight minutes’ drive east of I-75. If you are traveling through Dalton and would like a sweet snack, you will find far worse out there, and so we really recommend these good people to you.

As mentioned in a previous chapter, we got a very late start on our trip to Chattanooga, in part because I got very, very little sleep the night before. Marie was good enough to take the wheel for the hour or so drive home, and I enjoyed a nap. We still made it back before the sun went down, but took it easy the rest of the evening. We were quite full and the baby had a very full day. All told, that was an excellent day trip. If you’re in Atlanta and have young ones, what are you waiting for?

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a road trip through our area!

As mentioned in the earlier post on the subject, we would certainly love to know much more about the range that Kay’s Kastles expanded through in the 1960s and 1970s. Did you grow up in a town with either a Kay’s Kastles or a Kay’s? Can anybody confirm whether Huntsville had a store? A Google image search will bring up many more photos of that terrific sign, but do you have any of your own to share? Leave a comment and let us know!


14 thoughts on “Ice Castle, Dalton GA

  1. I grew up in Dalton near the Kay’s Kastle, which was in Bryman’s Plaza on Walnut Avenue, Dalton’s first shopping center. Bryman’s Plaza is, I believe, the reason the Walnut Avenue exit on I-75 exists, according to the story I remember from my childhood. (Warning: This may be more info than you want.)

    Sometime in the late ’50s-early ’60s, the route for I-75 had been established west of Dalton, but all the exits weren’t set. Wally Bryant, a local developer, planned to build a shopping center at the corner of Thornton Avenue (Highway 41) and Walnut, and he wanted the exit off the new Interstate to lead right to it. I need to look this up in the old Dalton papers, but as I recall, at the time, people thought the Walnut exit was really too close to the Highway 41 exit just north.

    Adding the exit at Walnut would also mean widening the street, which was a tree-lined two-lane winding through a residential section and ending at a farm out on Dug Gap Road. Past that farm was the route for I-75.

    I have a vague memory of women threatening to tie themselves to the old trees on Walnut that were slated to be cut down, but I was a child then and that may not have happened. At any rate, the trees came down, Bryant got his exit, of course, and his shopping center, with the Kay’s Kastle on the corner next to Thornton. The shopping center also had a Penney’s, where several years later my mom and I bought the sheets and towels I would take with me to college at UGA, and a Dunaway Drugstore, where in junior high we’d go to get fries and cherry Cokes.

    Prior to the Kay’s Kastle, the main place to get ice cream in Dalton was the Dairy Queen, which was south of Walnut on Thornton. We also had an A&W Root Beer with curb service, I believe, and foot-long hot dogs. That was about it until we got the Burger Chef. If my memory is wrong, I hope someone will correct me.

    I well remember many summer nights going to the Kay’s Kastle, though. My mother loved their pistachio ice cream. I loved the big cone on the side of the building, and I’m pretty sure it had a little boy on it.

    And now Walnut Avenue is an ugly example of bad zoning and all the other problems of a strip-mall world. They have managed to keep that one small area residential, though, just west of Thornton, but the big trees are long gone. And the farm that was at the west end of Walnut is a messy commercial area leading to the Interstate.

    Thanks for your blog. Athens is my home now, and I check in from time to time for your excellent reviews.

    1. Wow! No, don’t ever worry about giving us more information than we could want – we can’t possibly get enough. Thanks for the comment and the kind words.

      We call the sort of sprawl that typifies present-day Walnut “making way for the Wal-Mart,” after a Neko Case lyric, and it really is a mess that seems to have buried a lot of interesting history. I am surprised that this sign might have had the little boy; somehow I got the impression that it was just the Kay’s signs in Knoxville and north that had the ladder and the boy on it, and not the Kay’s Kastles. We’re always glad to learn more about these. Thanks again!

    2. I used to travel down to Dalton Ga. with my Dad usually twice a month back in the 60’s & 70’s from Kentucky. He would pick up carpet and chenille bedspreads since that is what he sold here. There was a boy on a ladder that went up the side of the ice cream cone and he appeared to be licking it. I always was fascinated by this since I was a youth myself. I also remember the A&W on US 41. It was close to a rail road crossing on US 41, just south of the shopping center. I also remember a store close by to these locations called the Big Apple.

  2. I too grew up in Dalton. In the early 70’s the greatest treat to me was eating at Kay’s Kastle in Bryman’s Plaza. It occupied the store on the far west side of the shopping center. My dad owned a barber shop in Bryman’s, so going over for an ice cream cone was a great treat. My favorite flavor was an apple flavored ice cream called “apple-dapple”. They made great hot dogs too. And yes, I remember the giant ice cream cone as well, and I’m glad It found a new home at the Ice Castle (which is also a great place for ice cream).

  3. The Giant ice cream cone at Kay’s at the Bryman’s Plaza had a ladder and a boy climbing up it with his arms reaching up to the ice cream. I think he had short pants on and a striped shirt but he definitely had a cap on that was like the beany style cap Jughead wears in the Archie comics, with the brim upturned and cut into points.

    1. Thanks very much, Mark! It’s looking like many of the Kay’s Kastles locations had the boy on the ladder, and not just the ones around Knoxville.

      As ever, we welcome more information about towns and cities around the southeast where this chain had a foothold. If you had a Kay’s / Kay’s Kastles in your area, please drop us a line, especially if you have pictures or know the address!

  4. More information for you. Kay’s Kastles, in Dalton, existed in the 80’s as well. I was born in October of ’79, so my memory of the 70’s is non-existent.

    My grandmother used to take us to Kay’s Kastles. I’d get a pink bubble gum ice cream. My older brother and I would play table-top Asteroids while trying not to break a tooth on frozen Chickets gum. Man, those were good times.

    That is, indeed, the same fiber glass ice cream cone.

    Nerd trivia: I play a phone game called Ingress, by Google. (It is like capture the flag and geocaching mixed together.) Ice Castle is a playable location and the photo used is the classic cone.

  5. Another former Daltonian here, my grandmother might have been one of those women threatening to tie herself to a tree. Sounds like something she would have done. I was born in 1970 so I don’t really remember before Walnut avenue (or as that same grandmother called it ” the access road”) was widened. Dalton Shopping Center , McDonalds, and Doc McAllister’s Chevron were already there.
    But Kays Kastle I do remember. When I was sick with a sore throat as a child my mom would often bring me a lime freeze to soothe the burn. It really was the only ice cream in town as the DQ Brazier had closed and Baskin Robins didn’t open across the street at Brymans South until like 1980. It was the big treat place along with Davis Bakery which was a few doors down at Brymans.

    Yay nostalgia

  6. I read this post just for the fact I grew up in the 80/90s. I was born in 1983 and I remember going to one that was in East Ridge Tn, right off Ringgold Rd. I did a Google search to see if I could find any old pictures of it and came up empty handed. However I did find the address, just wish I could have found pictures.

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