SWEET HOME – Henry Wolthuis retired from his dental practice six years ago, but found that the secret to feeling young is keeping busy.
“Now I’ve unretired, rather than sit at home watching television,” the 81-year-old said.
Wolthuis’ newest endeavor, the Fire Haus Ice Cream Shop, opened in November across from the Sweet Home Fire Station on Long Street — and that’s how the business got its name.
The shop sits inside Cascade Laundry, a laundromat that Wolthuis purchased in July.
“Kind of a crazy combination isn’t it?” Wolthuis said. “I took out five washing machines that weren’t being used very often.”
In their place sits the new shop, which usually has eight varieties of Umpqua Dairy ice cream available for cones, dishes and sundaes, all generously scooped.
Other eateries in Sweet Home have soft-serve ice cream, but the Fire Haus is the only establishment in Sweet Home to specialize in hard ice cream, Wolthuis said.
Grandparents often bring in their grandchildren for treats, said Wolthuis, who works there at least three days a week.
Wolthuis said that the ice cream shop probably was in his system because he grew up on a dairy farm in the Ogden, Utah area.
“We did everything, everything from milking the cows to delivering the bottled milk. I started doing that in about the fourth grade,” he added.
While the ice cream shop naturally doesn’t have the highest volume of customers in the middle of winter, that’s allowed Wolthuis to work out the kinks. He hopes to have tables out on the sidewalk with colorful umbrellas for the warmer weather.
Wolthuis keeps an accordion at his shop, and is known to play for customers. The Northwestern University graduate said that when he was young, his father brought home an accordion that a customer used to pay a debt to the family dairy.
The business has nods to Wolthuis’ Dutch heritage and Bavaria — the spelling of the shop’s name is a nod to the German region.
Wolthuis and his wife, Mollie, have long been interested in Bavaria and have vacationed there. (On the opening day at the Fire Haus, he played the accordion dressed in lederhosen.)
Wolthuis had his own dentist’s office in Sweet Home for 45 years.
He also has a tree farm off Wiley Creek Drive that’s filled with Douglas fir. He’s been named the tree farmer of the year for Linn County twice.
“I think it’s really good for me to go out there and work,” Wolthuis said.
He and his wife also stay busy with the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife also helps with the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers.
“You have to stay involved, mentally and physically,” Wolthuis said.
Fire Haus Ice Cream Shop, 1030 Long St., is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.