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WALNUT RIDGE — Polar Freeze, a beloved diner in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, has recently closed after 65 years of operation. This iconic business has not only been a staple in the community but has also served as a second home for multiple generations of families in Northeast Arkansas. The story of Polar Freeze dates back to 1958 when it was acquired by Jack Allison, who had just returned to his hometown after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

The journey of Polar Freeze began with the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Hood, who ran a seasonal dairy bar offering ice cream and malt shakes during the summer. The shop was later sold to Mr. and Mrs. Thurlo Davis, who eventually sold it to Jack Allison. Despite financial constraints, Mr. Davis made an unconventional offer to Jack, allowing him to make payments on the restaurant as he generated profits. Despite warnings from family and friends, Jack took a chance on his future and accepted the deal.

Under Jack’s ownership, Polar Freeze thrived and became a favorite spot for locals. Jack’s dedication to the business was evident as he worked seven days a week, often with only one or two nights off. He was supported by his wife, Velma, who would spend long hours in the restaurant, even into her retirement years. The success of Polar Freeze led to the addition of “The Patio,” a concrete slab with a jukebox, where teenagers would gather and enjoy themselves.

After 11 years, Jack and Velma relocated the business to a new building across the street, hosting a memorable “tear-down party” to demolish the old building. The event received widespread media attention and further solidified Polar Freeze’s place in the community. Unfortunately, Jack Allison passed away in 2019 at the age of 85, leaving Velma to run the business with the help of their children and dedicated employees.

Despite their best efforts, the decision to close Polar Freeze was difficult but necessary. Velma, now 83, expressed gratitude for the support and understanding of the community. The children, Shad Allison and Kellie Yates, along with some grandchildren, have all been involved in the family business, which created a deeper emotional connection for them.

Throughout the years, Polar Freeze remained unique among fast-food establishments. Every order was made fresh upon receipt, showcasing their commitment to quality food. While other businesses raised prices due to inflation, Polar Freeze maintained its affordable prices. Velma and Kellie credit the drive-thru window for helping them navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it provided a safer option for their customers.

The closure of Polar Freeze is undoubtedly a loss for the community. However, the memories of Jack Allison and his beloved diner will continue to live on in the hearts of the people in Walnut Ridge and Hoxie. The Allison family expresses their heartfelt appreciation to everyone who supported them throughout their 65 years of operation. They are grateful for their loyal customers, friends, and family who made Polar Freeze a cherished gathering place for the community.

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