Popular Moorhead summer eatery to reopen Saturday under new name

The Tastee Freez will now be known as The Freez. The business owners announced last fall it would no longer be part of the Tastee Freez franchise.

Co-owner Jessica Malvin stands in front of the former Tastee Freez restaurant on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 410 19th St. S., Moorhead. The restaurant will open Saturday, March 20, as The Freez. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD — As promised, the popular summer eatery formerly known as the Tastee Freez will open for business Saturday, March 20.

When it closed for the season Sept. 27, co-owner Jessica Malvin announced the restaurant at 410 19th St. S. had lost its Tastee Freez franchise, but vowed to come back "bigger and better" and under a new name in the spring .

This will be Malvin's 20th season at the restaurant now known as The Freez. She officially started serving cones and burgers there when she was 15. But before that, she would occasionally accompany her grandfather, Phil Huck, to mow the lawn.

Her aunt Carol (Huck) Thoma also worked at the Tastee Freez for a time. She trained in Duane "Dr. Freeze" and Fern Elofson, who owned and operated the restaurant from 1991 to 2017.

Malvin said it felt like things had "come full circle" when she and longtime co-worker Jessica Verdi took over the restaurant from the Elofsons.


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The new logo for The Freez restaurant in Moorhead. Special to The Forum

The purchase coincided with the start of construction on Moorhead's 20th/21st Street railroad underpass . That long-running project is expected to finally wrap up this fall.

Reduced access and construction noise are not the only challenges the women have faced. Like other restaurants, they were forced to alter operations last spring in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Then, last July, vandals caused extensive damage to the restaurant. They broke windows, damaged the roof and broke a compressor, which forced them to destroy everything in their coolers.

The community rallied around the restaurant, raising nearly $30,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help with repairs .

A fresh start

Reopening as The Freez signals a fresh start for the business this spring. Repairs to the roof, windows and doors are complete. The iconic neon Tastee Freez sign will soon be altered and fixed as well.


The menu of The Freez is little changed from the former Tastee Freez, as seen here Wednesday, March 17, in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Few changes were made to the menu. Many are in name only. The Freezer, similar to a McDonald's McFlurry or a Dairy Queen Blizzard, is now known as a Candy Mixer. The Big T Burger is now a T Burger.

The Freez is still home to the Bonnie Bar and the Barrel Bar, which Malvin said were named after a former employee.

Malvin said they did extensive research to find the right replacement for Tastee Freez ice cream.

"Our main goal was to find something that had the same ingredients and the butter-to-fat ratio we wanted," she said.

They think they've found a good match.

Malvin looks forward to welcoming customers back on Saturday. Strong community support has kept Malvin and Verdi motivated, despite the recent setbacks.

"Every time we'd have something bad happen, something positive would happen. When we got bad news from corporate or contractor problems, I'd ask myself if I could do this. I'm a mom with two little kids and two full-time jobs," Malvin said. "And then we won Best Of. (The Tastee Freez won Best Frozen Treat in The Forum's annual Best Of publication in November.) That was amazing. People do love us."



What: The Freez

Where: 410 19th St. S., Moorhead

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Malvin said once staff is trained, they hope to open at 11 a.m. during the week as well.

Angie Wieck is the business editor for The Forum. Email her at
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