New Orleans will face summer without one of the area’s most beloved sno-ball destinations, Harahan’s Ro-Bears Snowballs and Soft Serve. According to a sign posted outside the stand on Jefferson Highway, Ro-Bears will be closed for the 2019 season.
Known best for its extra-rich syrup and condensed milk drizzle (oh, and the chocolate flavor), Ro-Bears is one of the dozen or sno-ball stands New Orleanians look forward to all “winter” long, a 54-year-old institution that also serves ice cream and excellent hot tamales, as is often the tradition at sno-ball stands. It was started by Shirley Roberts in 1965 (while a mother of six) and remains a family-run business, with daughter Janice now running the day-to-day show.
New Orleans’s sno-ball tradition dates back to the 1930s when George Ortolano and Ernest Hansen built the city’s first electric ice-shaving machines after years of vendors shaving ice for the summer treats by hand. The machine’s fine, fluffy product is what came to distinguish the sno-ball from its denser, crunchier snow cone counterpart. Hansen went on to open Hansen’s Sno-Bliz (still under family ownership when it was named a James Beard America’s Classic in 2014), and Ortolano’s follow-up version of the machine is still used in shops today.
Eater has reached out to Ro-Bears for more information and will update if we hear back. There is no indication the closure will extend beyond this season, but we have updated our list of must-try sno-ball stands to reflect this summer’s absence.
Do you have a hot restaurant tip? Noticed a spot in your neighborhood opening or closing? Send an email.
Looking for restaurant recs or a place to chat about favorite restaurants? Join Eater NOLA’s Facebook group.