The official first day of spring is still more than a week away, but for at least one business in Stony Brook, it has already arrived. A sign reading "Spring is Here!" sits in the window at , signaling its reopening on Friday.
Its owner is Paul Vario – whose name you may recognize from his other career. The Brooklyn native is also an actor who appeared in the films "This Thing of Ours" and "Jesse," among others, and who just finished shooting "The Night Never Sleeps." Vario is also a visual artist who works in a variety of media.
But, he says, his store is his first priority. "I'm a hands-on owner," Vario said. "I want to make sure everyone at this window is happy."
He said he would like to have opened even earlier this year, but he couldn't get a delivery in time. He's banking on the weather warming up even more so than it has in the past few weeks.
"If it's cold, nobody will come," he said. "We haven't had spring in a few years. I hope we don't have winter in the spring."
Vario and manager Linda opened the shop at noon on Friday. By 12:20, the first customer had arrived to buy gift certificates after seeing the sign advertising its March 9 re-opening. The store closed for the winter in early November.
Ralph's is open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. But Vario said he's oftentimes stayed open later when there's a steady stream of people.
"You've got to do it when you can do it. We're only open seven months," he said. "I wish we were open year-round but we don't have the climate to do that."
When spring and summer roll in officially, Vario said the store will carry as many as 140 flavors and products, including low-fat, fat-free, and gluten-free ices, frozen yogurt, sundaes, shakes and smoothies. Vario said he's not concerned about competing with the Stony Brook location of located in the adjacent shopping center.
"Even though it's frozen dessert, it's a different product," he said. "Everybody has their choices. ... That goes for everything in life."