LOGAN SQUARE — After 21 years serving its famous Italian ice recipe to Bucktown residents, Miko’s Italian Ice has closed its operation at 1846 N. Damen Ave.
Sitting under warm multi-colored lights inside Miko’s mint green-walled Logan Square shop, co-owner Zach Roombos explained that the decision was driven by finances.
His uncle and business partner, Rick Roombos, initially bought the Bucktown building as a real estate investment. They never expected to operate Miko’s there forever, and last year, a prospective buyer approached them with an offer they couldn’t refuse, Zach Roombos said.
That doesn’t mean the decision came lightly.
“It’s sad, because there’s a lot of memories,” he said. “Literally, we have multiple generations of customers.”
The Logan Square shop is located at 2236 N. Sacramento Ave., and the family opened a third store in Irving Park three years ago, at 4125 N. Kimball Ave.
The family plans to kick off the spring season at its remaining locations on April 6 — weather permitting. Spring hours will be 12-6 p.m. on weekends and 2-6 p.m. during the week.
Roombos, who is now 31, was only 11 years old when his father and uncle first opened Miko’s in Bucktown.
Always spelled “Miko’s,” the family originally pronounced the name of the business “Mike-O’s.” But customers began pronouncing it, “Mee-kos,” and that stuck.
A year later, the family opened Miko’s in Logan Square. By 13, Roombos worked behind the counter, serving up the family’s Italian recipe. After college, he returned to help run the business and is now a co-owner.
In 21 years, he said, Miko’s grew to be a beloved staple in both the Bucktown and Logan Square neighborhoods.
Young couples would meet on dates. A few years later, those same couples would return with their babies in strollers.
Even dogs like to eat the Italian ice — as long as it’s not chocolate-flavored, Roombos said.
“In 21 years, a lot can happen,” he said.
Roombos said he hopes Bucktown customers won’t mind making the trek up Milwaukee Avenue once summer rolls around.
Or, if they want to skip the line, they can give Miko’s new online ordering service a try. Customers can place orders for pick-up, or order delivery. (Miko’s will deliver as far east as Ashland Avenue and as far south as North Avenue).
Miko’s will continue to serve its staple fresh fruit-based flavors. Lemon, coconut and mango are crowd favorites, but the family likes to experiment.
Cucumber, tamarind and guava are flavors to watch this summer, Roombos said. Customers should check the business’ social media for daily updates.
Roombos acknowledged the business’ geographical journey reflects the changing demographics of the Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhoods. Like residents, he said, small businesses will go where rents are affordable; hence the shift northwest.
That said, leaving Bucktown was especially hard for the family. That’s where it all began. It’s also where they consistently see their highest sales.
“It’s sad to leave, but at the same time the real estate values in Bucktown [are tough],” he said.
The family is eying opportunities for a third location, which could be as far west as Hermosa, Roombos said.
“We’re looking forward,” he said. “It’s not all bad.”