On a visit to Wyoming one warm day last year, J.D. Raphael commented to his friend Brandon Victor that the only thing missing in the Village Business District was an ice cream shop. So he and Victor decided to open one. They fittingly agreed to name it Cowboy Cones, and an opening date has been set for mid to late June (stay tuned to City communications for more details).
Located at 508 Wyoming Avenue in the former Wyoming Shoe Repair location, Cowboy Cones will serve premium ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, Wisconsin, which is famous for offering more than 100 flavors, says Raphael – 20 of which will be featured at Cowboy Cones. The shop will also feature soft serve with a creamier texture than traditional soft serve due to a 10 percent butter fat content. And there will be a selection of Italian Ice desserts, plus soy-based ice cream choices for dairy-free diets, and gluten-free cones.
Raphael says he and Victor, who lives in Wyoming with his wife Ashlee and three children, have been long-time friends and business associates through their “day jobs” in the HVAC business. They plan to hire local residents to staff the shop and each of their families will be actively involved. The store will feature a Wyoming Cowboys theme and colors as a show of support for the community, he says.
Tentative operating hours have been set for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, with later hours possible on weekends.
“We want it to be a fun gathering spot for families,” he says.
Farewell and Tribute to Wyoming Shoe Repair
While a new ice cream shop is a welcome addition to Wyoming’s business line-up, this story would not be complete without a heartfelt tribute to longtime Wyoming business owner Steve Mondy and his family venture, Wyoming Shoe Repair, whose space Cowboy Cones will now occupy.
Mondy died in a tragic car accident during a bucket list vacation trip out west with his best friend from childhood, Chris Levo, in August 2018. Both men lived in Milford. It was one of the first significant
vacations Mondy had taken in years due to his dedication to his business, and also due to devotion to his family. His first wife died of illness years ago, and a second longtime relationship with a woman he met after his wife died, also ended when she died from illness. He diligently cared for both, said his son, Kyle Mondy, who resides in Milwaukee.
Wyoming Shoe Repair had been in the Mondy family for two generations, said Kyle, after Steve’s father, Claude, bought the business in 1963. Steve was actually a third-generation cobbler, whose grandfather also worked in the shoe repair industry. In the mid 20th Century, shoe repair shops were a common sight in many towns. In fact, during the 1940s, there were more than 60,000 shoe repair businesses in the country. Today, there are fewer than 7,000, according to the Shoe Repair Institute of America.
“It’s part of a dying trade,” said Kyle. “Shoes today are made to be thrown away, not repaired. But for (my dad) it was about quality craftsmanship and relationships. He got to know his customers. Many clients came in generation after generation.”
Due to his status as one of the rare highly-skilled cobblers left in the Cincinnati area, Steve was busy with customers who came from all over to have shoes and other leather goods repaired. Good friend and Wyoming resident Michael Cooper said he knew Steve had customers who would drive from as far away as Kentucky for his services. “There just weren’t any more like him,” said Cooper. “He was a true craftsman.”
Cooper had known Steve’s dad, Claude, since the 1970s, when he would often come into the shop to talk about specialty leather work, a hobby Cooper began as a teenager. He became friends with Steve
when he took over the business from his dad in the 1980s.
“We hit it off right away,” said Cooper of his friendship with Steve. “We were similar in age and we both had an interest in leather work.”
Cooper had been helping Claude with unique leather projects and he continued that work with Steve as the proprietor. Their friendship never wavered through the years, and regular trips to the shop on
Saturdays were part of Cooper’s routine until Steve’s passing.
“We were just really good friends,” said Cooper. “I went in nearly every Saturday. I would stop at the bakery and then head to the shoe repair shop to visit with Steve. Sometimes we would go over to the meat market and have lunch together. Jim Gelhausen (Wyoming Meat Market owner) was a friend from school. I helped Steve with specialty leather projects right up until the end.”
“He was the most honest human being, and a truly good person,” Cooper recalls. “He treated everyone the same, and you never heard him utter a bad word about anyone. He loved working in Wyoming,
loved the work he did. I still miss him.”
Tradition of Friendly, Local Service Carries On
Ice cream and shoe repair don’t have much in common, but family-friendly values and a desire to offer high-quality service in a small-town setting do.
“We jumped on the opportunity to open a shop in a close-knit community that supports small business,” says Raphael. “We realize we have big shoes to fill – pun intended – but we are hoping to continue the tradition of providing the kind of quality service that Mr. Mondy delivered for so many years.”
Cowboy Cones will be serving a selection of its ice cream via a mobile food cart over the next several weekends as they finalize construction of their location. Look for them out front of 508 Wyoming Avenue each weekend through June.