Small Business Saturday: Diane’s Water Ice offers a twist on an old treat

Mark DeCesare’s 23-year-old business serves up local favorite

By REBECCA COHEN

Special to The Sun

Summer starts early in Voorhees, when local watering hole Diane’s Water Ice opens in the beginning of March and families flock to the scene to enjoy frozen treats unique to South Jersey.

Owner Mark DeCesare opened Diane’s Water Ice, located at 2999 E. Evesham Road in Voorhees, 23 years ago with the intent to create a new and better kind of water ice for locals to enjoy, while expanding job opportunity for himself, as his degree in civil engineering and project management did not provide for stable jobs. Since then Diane’s has sold gourmet water ice and soft serve ice cream six months a year.

“We have a whole different system than other water ice places,” DeCesare said. Diane’s water ices have a texture similar to sherbet, as opposed to a looser texture, which is what most other places sell, he said. “[The texture] gives us more options. We can make it like ice cream, take the ice cream components people love and make it into a water ice,” DeCesare said.

“I like Diane’s because it mixes water ice and ice cream,” Samantha Abrams, a resident of neighboring town Cherry Hill, said.

DeCesare believes the consumers prefer this kind of water ice because it is different than what you can get anywhere else.

Diane’s uses Facebook and Twitter to promote its water ices. Store manager Rachel Worthington runs the accounts. Diane’s offers a “special” flavor — a flavor that is not on the everyday menu — daily, which is posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages, along with the closing time for that day.

“How much water ice we sell is astonishing. We could go through 200 buckets of water ice in a week, and that’s a lot,” DeCesare said. “We have never strayed from our roots, still using the same ingredients as when we started.”

He added that despite a rise in price to make his product, he continues with his original methods.

“We’re not deviating to try to save money,” he said.

“Parking is mayhem,” Andrea Stearn, a mother in the area, said.

The shop is small and there is no seating inside. There are benches outside, and since it only opens during the warmer months, people can enjoy their water ice outside without an issue. Diane’s is located in a small strip mall, so there is not much parking, and due to large crowds, the lot is easily congested.

Diane’s closes each October, to the disappointment of regulars, but DeCesare said crowds die down in the later months, which is the main reason he closes for the winter. He hopes a future opportunity to open a second shop will present itself, and if it does, he wants explore making gourmet ice cream and possibly keeping this new shop open year-round.