LACONIA — Calise Houle is only six years out of Laconia High School but she's already started her second business at the same Union Avenue location just up the street from the school where she was president of the Key Club in her senior year.
The Happy Cow Ice Cream Shop proved an instant hit this summer, so much so that she's added indoor seating and kept it open through the fall and into the early winter, proving that in the Happy Cow's case anyway, ice cream isn't just for summer anymore.
She serves up large portions of delicious ice cream, including soft serve, in a large variety of flavors in both sugar and waffle cones, huge hot sundaes, frappes and flurries.
The Happy Cow features an outdoor seating area of picnic tables and Adirondack chairs on our front lawn where customers enjoy watching the cars and bikes while relaxing with their favorite treats during the warmer months of the year.
She says that business has been good this fall and that many nights she's been busy right up until 10 p.m.
''It's really important to be a part of the community and we're getting that now with a lot of regular customers who stop by a couple of times a week,'' says Houle.
Happy Cow was recently voted as the top ice cream place in the Lakes Region and she and her staff recently raised enough money in their "Tips for Turkeys" jar to buy 18 Thanksgiving turkeys for the Salvation Army. Last Saturday she encouraged people to shop local by giving a 10 percent discount to customers who brought in a receipt from local businesses.
Houle says she attended Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe, majoring in business, for two years after graduating from LHS in 2007, before she decided to plunge into the business world, partnering with her father, Don, who ran Pemi Glass, to open the Maui Oasis tanning salon, which she ran for four years.
''It was a good experience. You learn a lot more about business with the actual hands on experience. There are things you'd never learn in school. But it was time to move on and do something different.'' says Houle.
She established a business relationship with Blake's Creamery in Manchester, which supplies all of her ice cream, and opened for business in June. She says her business employs six people during the busy summer months and is down to half that now. She plans to remain open through December and close for two months before reopening in March.
Happy Cow's new hours run from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Elaine Morrison and Dick Smith are frequent customers at the Happy Cow Ice Cream Shop, which Calise Houle (rear) opened on Union Avenue this summer. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
ice cream turkey
Happy Cow Ice Cream Shop waitresses raised enough money from their tips to buy 18 turkeys which were donated to the Salvation Army. Shown are Felicia and Calise Houle. (Courtesy photo)