Story & Photos by LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
There were smiles behind the masks and many “happy” tears as a group of supporters showed their appreciation in a big way to the owners of Cups & Cones.
Kristi and Rick Nordin were completely surprised this morning when they were asked to step outside of their Steiner Ranch shop for a moment. Little did they know that about a 100 people had gathered in the parking lot, in the hot sun, to cheer them on, to say “thank you” and to present them with a huge check for $9,100.
“We love you and ah… and we collected $9,100 to keep you in the community,” said Margie Aston, who belongs to the Steiner Ranch/River Ridge Buzz Bandits that was formed earlier this summer to do random acts of kindness.
Donations came from more than 300 people in the community who wanted to give the Nordins a financial boost for their small eatery and corner store, which features artisan gifts.
“Like many Austin businesses, Cups & Cones is struggling during COVID. They have to pay their rent and keep the doors open,” Aston said. She made the initial suggestion to ‘buzz” the Nordins and the group agreed, “so this is what it evolved into” and on July 11 at 11 a.m., the hard-working couple from River Place experienced a moment of a lifetime at their shop at 2900 N. Quinlan Park.
“Thank you guys so much. We are so blessed,” said Kristi, wiping away tears.“It’s unbelievably humbling and very encouraging.”
Everyone cheered and many shouted out during the presentation, “We love you!”
“Thank you all so much. It’s a blessing for us to be here,” said Rick, who was rendered speechless for a few moments.
Community members shared examples of their kindness over the past 13 years and how they supply coffee and tea to teacher meetings, and they give free tea to the band and work with Community First! Village.
“These people have gone a long way. They’ve always helped people out in charitable endeavors,” said Tamara Crooks, who is a Buzz Bandit.
“What you’ve given out over the years, this is a fraction coming back,” said Debbie Levine, who helped pull off this heartfelt act of kindness. “You don’t even understand what you mean to the community. I don’t think you really do. You are just givers, givers, givers, givers.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cups & Cones corner store has been a gathering place for meetings of all kinds including PTA, scouts, tutoring with Viper Nation Academic Booster Homework Help, knitting, pancake breakfasts, birthdays, soccer award ceremonies, story times, study groups, and more.
Levine hosted community members at her home to make signs in social-distanced fashion the night before until midnight. She said many shared how special, selfless and humble the Nordins are.
“It’s just who we are and you guys mean the world to us, and we wouldn’t be here without you,” Kristi said.
“To be here this long says alot about these people here. It’s supporting local businesses, it’s supporting community,” Rick said.
Ice cream stop
The idea to create an ice cream shop came shortly after the Nordins moved to River Place in 2005 with their three children: Andrew, Amalia, and Aleksander.
During a family trip to Port Aransas during Thanksgiving 2006, they were looking for ice cream and couldn’t find a place to stop.
They started talking that the Four Points area didn’t have a shop either. The idea gained momentum after the trip and the Nordins began to look for space.
Rick, who grew up in Chicago, missed the ice cream shops that seemed to be every few blocks.
Kristi got behind the idea but was more interested in having a spot for working moms to meet and have coffee and for a kid-friendly environment. They put the two together and came up with Cups & Cones.
“We moved a lot over the years and never had community like I had in rural Minnesota,” she said. She wanted to create the kind of community she remembers where so many relationships were formed.
After Kristi and Rick married, they moved to Austin then California and then back to Austin with Rick’s job in tech. Kristi always wanted to create a warm and welcoming place for people to build community, much like the grain elevator co-op of her youth, where locals would spend many hours each week hanging out.
The Buzz Bandits recognize that Cups & Cones — which serves sandwiches, burgers and take-out dinners in addition to ice cream and coffee — has been a staple and even a “command base” in Steiner since 2007.
The Buzz Bandits was formed several weeks ago by Stacy Meisenhelter as a fun, positive Facebook page to lift community residents up during these trying times of the pandemic. Now with more than 730 members, they have “buzzed” those in need with porch drop-offs of snacks and drinks to boost spirits.
The Bandits made sure their check presentation to the Nordins was complete with a COVID-style car parade.
“This would not be Steiner Ranch with you, Kristi and Rick, and Cups & Cones,” Aston said. “Thank you for loving us.”