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Couple Brings New Orleans Cool Flare To Oakdale
Mavericks owners Mark and Deborah McDonald pictured being surrounded by their iconic New Orleans decorations that give the store that festive flare. Sarah Lawson/The Leader

From New Orleans, to the Bay area, then finding their forever home in Oakdale, co-owners and married pair Deborah and Mark McDonald have opened a new local business, Mavericks Ice. Mark grew up in New Orleans where the ‘sno ball’ machine was first invented by Ernest Henson, creating a cool sweet treat. Henson went to Maryland where they started by shaving blocks of ice by hand off of a cart, and then he went back to New Orleans and created the automatic machine.

“Everyone had a stand in their living room, sno ball stands were everywhere,” Mark explained.

Eventually moving to the Bay area, Mark met Deborah there 14 years ago. Between the two of them, they have six boys, Mark, 21; Caiden, 14; Dylan, 12; Jordon, 11; Landon, 8; and Kason, 5.

Five years ago the family moved to Oakdale and saw how the town glowed with community spirit. In 2019 the couple started on their journey to build Maverick’s and bring a sense of New Orleans culture with it. COVID put a couple of speed bumps in their plans to open so they had to postpone until earlier this year in May, when they were finally able to continue.

Once they found the perfect spot for their business they began the journey of Mavericks, now open for business at 1190 E. F St. After multiple attempts to open early in the year, they eventually had a soft opening around Halloween.

“We don’t want it to be seasonal, we want it to be all year long,” Deborah said. “My husband has been talking about it for 10 years now, everywhere we go the kids want the sno cone, they want the shaved ice, they want the ice cream, they don’t care if it’s cold outside. So we decided it was a fit for us and for the kids.”

They plan to stay open seven days a week all year round, and currently are open noon to 7 p.m.; though they will be closing briefly this winter to bring in some more items in an expansion as they plan to offer pizza, New Orleans style beignets and churros.

Once summer hits they will be open instead at 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving all kinds of sweets and treats that include sno balls, root beer floats, and over 100 flavors to choose from. For those that look for sugar free options they provide 12 to 15 different sugar free flavors as well. They also have a handful of indulgence toppings like sweet cream, marshmallow, sprinkles, chamoy, tajin, any kind of sour candies, and peach rings.

The business is a family operation that they hope to hand down to their kids if they want to run it themselves one day. Another future goal for Mavericks is to eventually go mobile and have smaller locations throughout the area.

“We really want to move into a Conexus box, the shipping containers, and build in those so they can be mobile,” Deborah explained. “We want to take those and drop them off at lakes and events like birthday parties.”

Family is a big reason the business was made in the first place. A place that could grow in their family and be kept family owned and operated. Family is also how they got the businesses name, after their dog ‘Maverick’ who is a husky and corgi mix and enjoys eating lots of ice.

Ice blocks used for sno balls, are made in house to create an easier product control. Right now they go through six to 10 blocks a day. In the summer, they are expected to go through 30 to 50 blocks.

Besides sno balls, Deborah personally makes items such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and keychains that will soon be available to purchase. If you buy their tumblers, you can get a discount off each purchase when you bring the cup back with you.

Mavericks had the opportunity to host the third locally scheduled Teen Meet and Greet on Dec. 28. This is a community outreach to provide a safe place for teens to gather. All kids within the ages of 12 and 17 are invited to meet up at a specific location and get the chance to talk to other kids their age and make new friends. At the December gathering, Mavericks provided free small sno balls along with cookies and bottled water brought by Mayor Cherilyn Bairos.

Kayleigh Gilbert of Ingrid Walker Insurance, who has been assisting at the Teen Meet and Greet events, noted that there were “a lot of new people this time compared to the past two meetings.”

The recent teen gathering had a total of 15 kids who all sat in a circle and had a set amount of time to talk to their neighbor; when that time ran out the circle rotated and the time repeated. This tactic allows each person to have the opportunity to talk, therefore creating equal opportunities for conversation. The teen gatherings are coordinated by Bairos and she receives help from Gilbert at each meeting.

Mavericks Ice continues to grow their business, all while making their new spot in Oakdale, their home away from home.

Showing the finished product of a lemonade sno ball – which is his go-to flavor – is 12-year-old Dylan, one of six boys in the family that has brought Mavericks Ice to Oakdale. Sarah Lawson/The Leader