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Bittersweet: Family-run ice cream stand in Laurel faces uncertain future after being forced to relocate

MoCones has been operating since 2004
MoCones sign in Laurel
Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-09 18:01:10-05

BILLINGS — A family-run Laurel business is being forced out of its spot by Town Pump.

MoCones has been in operation for 20 years with 17 of those being spent in a Town Pump parking lot. But the gas station is remodeling and will need the stand to move during the process, which could take months.

“I’m fairly confident that Town Pump will allow us to put it back," said Mo Henman, the co-owner of MoCones, on Thursday. "But at this point, we’re looking at probably missing next season."

MoCones with Town Pump in the background
MoCones with Town Pump in the background

The ice cream business opens on Mother's Day and closes on Labor Day every year.

MoCones got its name from Mo (Del) Henman. He's well-known in the community for his 'Big Mo's Rock n Roll Show' that he puts on before the 4th of July Laurel Fireworks Show.

“The name of this place came from our daughters basically," said Henman. "My daughter said, ‘Why don’t we just call it MoCones? Everybody knows you.’ I fought against that. I had other names but I lost.”

But MoCones could be no-mo.

"There’s a lot of people that are going to be upset," Henman said. "It will be a shock."

Located in the parking lot of the Town Pump across from Laurel Schools at 704 First Ave., the business has been rooted for 17 years. Before that, it was located near the railroad overpass on South First Ave. for three years.

"We started out with our own children working here and now we have grandchildren working here,” Mary Henman, Mo's wife and co-owner of MoCones, said on Thursday.

Closed signs
Closed signs

Town Pump has plans for a remodel which would require the ice cream stand to move.

"They’re adding on to this building. So with the construction and the equipment, I need to move it out of the way during construction," Mo said. "Problem is, construction’s going to take up to nine months. So there wouldn’t be any MoCones next summer."

MTN News reached out to Town Pump for comment and received the following statement:

Town Pump statement on MoCones
Town Pump statement on MoCones

It reads in part, “During the construction project, contractors will need to rebuild a portion of the parking lot...With the construction activity, there would not be space for an ice cream stand...Town Pump has spoken with Mr. Henman about potentially returning to the site in 2025 after construction is complete.”

It continues to state that Town Pump hopes through this report MoCones will find an alternate location in Laurel.

But the Henmans say they are comfortable in the spot they’ve been in for nearly 18 years.

Mo & Mary Henman
Mo & Mary Henman

"This is a great spot right here with the boulevard and all the trees. People are so used to it here," Mo said. "There could be a better spot somewhere in town, but I haven’t found it yet."

While the Henmans say they aren’t worried about the personal financial impacts of missing a season, they are worried about the impacts on the community.

"We sponsor baseball and church groups. Camps. Football camps and baseball camps," Mary said. "A lot of our money goes right back into the community, so with us being closed for a season, we’re not going to be able to do that."

MoCones-sponsored Big Sky State Games Softball Team
MoCones-sponsored Big Sky State Games Softball Team

The majority of employees are teenagers in the community.

“We’ve always been blessed with a lot of young people that want to work here,” Mo said.

Customers wouldn’t be able to enjoy the stand’s summer treats.

Enjoying MoCones
Enjoying MoCones

"We open on Mother’s Day. There’s only one story that sticks out in my mind and it was from a school teacher. She goes, ‘Now children, remember this weekend is a very important day.’ And of course, she’s thinking Mother’s Day," Mary said. "One little kid raised his hand and goes, ‘Yes, MoCones opens!’ And that’s just stuck with me for years, how important it is."

While the Henmans continue to search for options, they find comfort in knowing how much they would be missed.

“We wouldn’t say no (to a new location), we’ll definitely consider it. It’s very humbling, the offers we’ve already received and the people that have blown up the Facebook page," Mo said. "It does make you feel good and proud of your community."

Mary added the community's response to the news of MoCones' potential closure has been eye-opening.

"Most people don’t want us to be gone for the season. It’s been extremely humbling with people asking if they could help and that type of thing,” Mary said.

Mo and Mary hope they will be able to continue serving their customers for years to come.

"If we talk too much we’ll get a little emotional about it," Mo said. "It means a lot. It’s very humbling."

To learn more about MoCones, click here.

MoCones sign in Laurel
MoCones sign in Laurel