With classic rock softly streaming in the background, a cheery blue lighting up the walls and the signature painting of a red bird greeting everyone who walks through the door, Red Bird is making the scoop in Kerrville one sweet treat at a time.
“We wanted to have a place in Kerrville where we could take our kids, just like a family-friendly environment, something to enjoy,” said co-owner Eric Martinez, who runs the shop with his wife, Alexandra. “We just decided to do it ourselves.”
The Kerrville Daily Times asked Facebook users what they would do for a snack if they found a bit of change in their pocket, and going to Red Bird, a local ice cream and soda shop that opened in November, was a popular answer.
“It’s clean and everyone is so welcoming and helpful and friendly,” said Kerrville resident Michelle McBryde DeRonde, who frequents the shop. “You always feel at home when you walk through the door.”
The newspaper’s social media fans listed a whole range of items under the question “what’s your guilty pleasure?” Some of the others to make the list included food from Pint and Plow, Taco Casa, Hippie Chicks and a slew of others.
Red Bird has an old-fashioned vibe, inspired by soda fountains from the 1950s. The specialty? Ice cream sodas, a popular sweet back in the day that Martinez said not a lot of people are familiar with now.
“You get the syrup and mix a little ice cream with it until it’s really creamy, and you make it into a soda by adding carbonated water; then you add another scoop of ice cream,” he said. “You don’t really get those too often anymore unless you go to a soda fountain. ... We’ve been approved by people that are older and went to soda fountains when they were kids, so I guess we’re doing it right.”
But McBryde DeRonde and her friend Lora Stufflet stick to the green tea sodas, something that they’ve never found anywhere else.
“It’s bittersweet, definitely an acquired taste,” DeRonde said. “You need to know that going in to get it. I love it. It’s very filling.”
The idea for an ice cream shop started with Martinez’s oldest son, now 9 years old, who suggested it while the family was brainstorming what kind of business they should open. Then the name came naturally — in a symbol the family has always treasured.
“We had asked God to confirm something in our lives when we were first together,” Martinez said. “We asked him to show us a sign if we were supposed to do it. We said, ‘Show us a red bird,’ and we saw a bunch of them all at once within 20 or 30 seconds. ... (So when) my wife mentioned Red Bird (for a name), the puzzle piece sort of fit in; it felt right.”
Martinez said it’s a long-term goal to start making their own ice cream, but in the meantime, they use Blue Bell ice cream.
They try to accommodate people with dietary restrictions, too, with gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Ultimately, Martinez said that a stop at Red Bird is a way for people to just enjoy a peaceful moment in life and feel at home.
“I think (ice cream) makes people forget about their problems, and it brings people closer together,” he said. “Not as many people are on their phones in here, and they’re just really enjoying the moment. It helps them loosen up.”