After John Clark retired from his job as an electrician a few years ago, he decided he wanted to open an old-time ice cream parlor and soda fountain.
Clark and his wife, Carla, who live in eastern Shawnee, had fond memories of visiting an ice cream parlor in Humbolt, Kan., and they wanted to bring a similar business to the Kansas City area.
“Not only was that expensive, but it was too old-style for me,” says Carla Clark. “So we adjusted and came up with this very homey ice cream shop.”
The Clarks opened Dips & Sips, their downtown Mission ice cream shop and bakery, in March 2012. They say the location appealed to them because it has a small-town feel and because they’ve been regulars at the nearby Mission Bowl for years.
Carla, who previously worked as an office manager at a construction company, bakes all of the pies, cookies, cakes and muffins sold at the shop. She’s known for her cinnamon rolls ($2) — softball-sized pastries that are baked fresh every morning.
“It’s my own recipe,” she says. “It’s kind of between a bread roll and a cinnamon roll. I’m not cheap on the cinnamon, and people like that.”
The irresistibly soft rolls are swirled with thick layers of a sticky cinnamon-and-sugar sauce and zig-zagged with housemade cream cheese icing. After 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave, they taste like they’re fresh out of the oven.
Jumbo-sized cupcakes are also popular at Dips & Sips. The $1.50 cakes all contain fillings: The chocolate flavor is full of hot fudge, lemon has lemon curd inside, and the strawberry and red velvet cupcakes contain cream cheese frosting.
The shop’s ice cream freezer chills 16 Belfonte flavors. The top seller is Chocolate Suicide, a chocolate mousse-like base swirled with marshmallow and chocolate shavings. Other options include strawberry, espresso, mint chocolate chip and black walnut, another customer favorite. The ice cream costs $1.75 for a single scoop, $2.25 for two, or $2.75 for three. Customers can choose from a cup, cake cone, sugar cone or waffle cone (at no extra charge). The shop also serves shakes, malts, sundaes, root beer floats and banana splits.
For $3.50, you can order a scoop of ice cream with a slice of pie. Carla usually has apple, cherry, blueberry and peach in the bakery case. Seasonal flavors include strawberry rhubarb in summer and pumpkin around the holidays.
Dips & Sips is also known for its soft serve ice cream, which can be customized with toppings and flavor swirls. The shop serves a treat called an Explosion that’s similar to a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Explosions ($3.50 to $4, depending on the size) blend vanilla or chocolate soft serve with up to three toppings from a long list that includes fresh fruit, crumbled candy, Oreo cookies, hot fudge and gummy worms.
When I went to Dips & Sips last week, I ordered a Flavor Burst ($1.50 to $2.50, depending on the size), soft serve swirled with one of eight flavors: root beer, chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, strawberry, cheesecake, caramel or “blue goo.”
I picked a classic combination: Vanilla soft serve with butterscotch on a cake cone. It tasted like a more portable version of a butterscotch sundae — so it was the perfect treat for strolling the newly renovated Johnson Drive, which boasts wide sidewalks and plenty of parking.
The Clarks kept their business open during construction last year, even when Johnson Drive was blocked and the sidewalks were ripped out, making the front door inaccessible to customers.
“It was pretty devastating,” Carla says, “but we were always open in case someone wanted to come in the back door.”
She adds that sales are much stronger now that the road work is complete.
“Our ice cream sales have completely taken off,” she says.
Summertime is also a busy time for ice cream cakes. Customers choose an ice cream flavor and cake flavor (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, strawberry, red velvet, lemon…) for $22 for a nine-inch round.
Carla Clark also makes a dessert that’s perfect for a Memorial Day or Independence Day picnic: A box of 35 cupcakes decorated with red, white and blue frosting and assembled to look like the American flag ($35). Dips & Sips also takes orders for custom cakes.
“Our motto is ‘You dream it, we make it,’” Carla says.
Sarah Gish writes about Johnson County restaurants every second and fourth week of the month. Contact her by calling 816-234-4823, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sarah_gish.
Dips & Sips
Location: 5735 Johnson Drive in Mission
Phone: 913-677-DIPS (3477)
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Don’t miss: The freshly baked cinnamon rolls ($2) and Flavor Bursts — soft serve ice cream swirled with add-in flavors such as butterscotch, caramel and strawberry. Flavor bursts cost $1.75 to $3, depending on the size.