The Inside Scoop

What do you get when you pair an extremely high-quality, popular product with a family-owned and operated shop in downtown Saline County? The answer is Benton’s Just Ice Cream.

Just Ice Cream serves Loblolly Creamery ice cream. Based in Little Rock, Loblolly has made a name for itself through its small-batch, handcrafted ice creams and sweet treats. All of the menu items are made from scratch—from the brownie chunks to the marshmallow fluff—even the sauces and toppings. 

Flavored by real food, with no added chemicals or food colorings, Loblolly’s seasonal flavor options include summer’s Strawberry Buttermilk and winter’s Bourbon Pecan, just to name a few. Combine this delightful product with genuine, hometown customer service and the result is Just Ice Cream. It is no surprise that they have received a very warm welcome from the Saline County community. 

Just Ice Cream belongs to Tia and Jonathan Wind of Benton, who have lived in the area for ten years since relocating from central Illinois. When asked where they got the idea to open the restaurant, Tia shares, “We were in Florida at the Gulf Coast for our summer vacation and drove around looking for an ice cream shop. It was hard to find a place that only served ice cream, and we joked and said that when we retired, we would open an ice cream shop of our own in Florida. We returned home from vacation and the idea never went away. When we decided to stay in central Arkansas long-term, we decided to go for it and open the ice cream shop. The rest is history!”

In business since April 2019, Just Ice Cream outgrew its first small location and moved to its current location on North Market Street after just four months of being open. The COVID-19 pandemic hit right before it had been open one year. According to Tia, they faced another big surprise during the quarantine. She says, “We have been blown away by how busy we’ve stayed. We switched to curbside service when we re-opened and have been extremely busy throughout the pandemic. It has been so awesome to be a part of this community during this time, and being the destination when people need to get out of their house. It’s been another great reminder as to why we love it here.”

The Winds credit the tight-knit Saline County community with their shop’s popularity, and  they know it is the product and community that sets them apart. When asked what makes Just Ice Cream unique, Tia responds, “The vibe. We are family-owned and -operated and you feel that difference when you walk in the door. We pay attention to the details, and we have fun here. It doesn’t feel like work to be here. We love our customers and look forward to visiting with them—especially the regulars—while they are here!”

Just Ice Cream shares their latest flavors, store hours and specials with their extremely active social media community on Facebook and Instagram. “That is something else that has made this community so awesome—how easy it’s been to advertise what’s going on through social media,” said Tia. The Just Ice Cream team is constantly creating specials such as an ice cream and cookie combo celebrating the first week of school, shared on Facebook. 

The shop’s most popular ice cream flavors are Arkansas Mud, Milk Chocolate and Double Vanilla. With other flavors to choose from like Salted Caramel, Fresh Mint Chip and Banana Pudding, there are many options for even the most discerning palates. The artisan ice cream is available by the scoop, and some flavors are offered by the pint, with creative and inventive milkshake flavors rounding out the frozen offerings. A medley of baked and sweet treats are served fresh daily and offer something for everyone. 

In the last year and a half, Just Ice Cream has given Saline County residents a convenient, high-quality dessert destination at a time when they really needed it. When asked what they love and appreciate most about Saline County, Tia is quick to share, “To us, it is like Mayberry! It is our hometown, is like family, and feels safe. 

“We love that this community is all about family, kids, school, sports, church. We knew the minute we moved here that we had found our home. We are super grateful to Saline County for welcoming us with open arms. It is so exciting to feel the acceptance of this community.”