The Scene

Everyday is a ‘fun day’ at Rock Falls’ Sundae Funday restaurant & ice cream parlor

Sundae Funday opened in downtown Rock Falls in May 2023, serving unique desserts and Mexican treats. The restaurant is owned by the Brito Family, represented by Jorge (center) and Jerry (right) and assisted by business partner Ruben Tapia.

There’s more than one way to make nachos.

Sure, there’s the traditional way, the recipe that people like Jorge Brito and his family have enjoyed since they were kids: chips and cheese topped with some veggies.

But they’ve got another way to make them that’s pretty good too — and it’s not just another chip off the old block.

How about waffle cone chips and scoops of ice cream, topped off with Oreos and whipped cream?

Oreo ice cream nachos is on the menu at Sundae Funday in Rock Falls.

Sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it? And there are more nummy nachos where that came from, at the latest addition to the lineup of downtown Rock Falls’ dining options: Sundae Funday.

That’s because fun is the added ingredient that helps set the eatery apart from others, giving it its own distinct flavor. It’s a recipe that’s proving successful for Brito and his crew as they put their own twist on traditional Mexican food and desserts.

Jorge and his family own Sundae Funday, where Mexican food is the specialty that they like to make even more special by spicing things up and cooling things down. Customers can start off with tacos or burritos and top it off with something sweet, like the dessert nachos.

Another fun taste twist: the Churro Split — like a banana split, with a pair of churros instead of bananas. Those are just a few of the items to come out of the kitchen and behind the counter since Sundae Funday opened last May.

As with any new restaurant, there’s always bound to be those first-year jitters — finding out what people like and adjusting the menu, hoping what they have to offer will pass customers’ taste test. So far, Sundae Funday has gotten high marks.

“It’s been really good,” Jorge said. “Being our first year, we had been testing things out to see what works and what doesn’t so that we have a set schedule and see what the response from the community was.”

The core of the staff includes Jorge, who is managing owner, business partner Ruben Tapia, and Jorge’s brother Jerry. Several other family members also help from time to time, including the Britos’ mother, Eloise; she and her late husband Efrain started the Brito’s Grill food truck 11 years ago in Sterling, which the family continues to operate.The business is new, but the idea for it isn’t. The elder Britos had wanted to open an ice cream-themed business for some time, and Sundae Funday is the long-awaited result of that.

Sundae Funday, 315 W. Second St. in Rock Falls, is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“My mom and dad wanted to expand to have ice cream, and we’ve made their dream a reality,” Jorge said.

So far, things have been hot and cold at Sundae Funday, which is how customers like it: If your taste buds are up to it, you can try the Flamin’ Elote, Mexican street corn served on a stick and seasoned with “flamin’ hot” Cheeto dust. Then you can cool off with a couple of scoops of ice cream.

Spicing things up and cooling things down has proven to be a good balance.It’s all about finding what customers like — and introducing them to things they may not have even known they liked, until they tried them.

”We wanted it to have a unique blend,” Jorge said. “We like to test things out and see what works and see what staples people are asking for, and to have new things come in and try to give them enough attention to keep it on the menu.”

When it first opened, Sundae Funday started out with 16 different ice creams, some mainstays and others rotating in and out. Today, the counter is full of colors inside and out — swirls of sweetness in ice cream containers, and jars of colorful candy lining the top: gummies and goodies waiting to turn their ice cream into something really cool. They’ve also added eight more blends to choose from.

When the Britos wield their scoops, they’re sure to put a little more oomph into it: They sell thick varieties from the Madison, Wisconsin-based Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co., a company known for its specialty flavors.

Along with the usuals — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and butter pecan — others offered on a rotating basis include, but aren’t limited to: Super Human, a blend of cherry, blue moon and vanilla that looks like Superman’s suit; Fat Elvis with sweet banana ice cream, salty peanut butter ripple and rich chocolate chips; Mackinac Island fudge with vanilla with chocolate fudge ripple and chunks; and blueberry and strawberry cheesecake flavors — when one runs out, the other flavor replaces it.When searching for an ice cream vendor, the Britos wanted to find one that was popular, but wasn’t available locally.

”We wanted to go with something that wasn’t available at the freezers at the gas stations in the little pints, or something you could get at Walmart,” Jorge said. “We wanted to bring in a type of ice cream that wasn’t available around here, but go with something that was recognized. We chose this brand because we felt people know about it, and it’s really popular up in Wisconsin. That, and the fact that they’ve won awards, also is what we liked about it and chose it.”

Also among the rotating flavors are those suited for vegans and people on a gluten-free diet.

“There’s something for everyone,” Brito said. “We try to keep at least a flavor for someone who is lactose intolerant and those who watch out for allergies.”

Some flavors have the adults in mind, and Exhausted Parent is one of them; it consists of bourbon-spiked espresso ice cream swirled with bittersweet chocolate chunks.

”The name is so catchy it entices the parents to actually try it,” Jorge said. “We like to have some flavors for both kids and parents.”

As far as the Mexican menu goes, the Britos didn’t have to look far for ideas — they just had to look at their own family recipes. In addition to tacos, burritos and elotes, there are tamales and beef nachos, as well as dishes such as gazpacho moreliano, doriloco and chicharon reparado that mix vegetables and hot sauces. Shrimp ceviche appears on the menu weekends only, Friday to Sunday; it’s cooked shrimp with tomato, cucumber, avocado, onions, cilantro and jalapeños, all with a citrus flavor to it.

As for drinks, there’s plenty of eclectic flavors to pick from: Mangonada is a Mexican dessert drink made of mango sorbet chunks and chamoy topped with chili powder. Jarritos brand sodas also are available along with bottled water, Gatorade and other sodas.

The Britos also like to keep their menu fresh, with new and limited-time foods and drinks introduced on a regular basis on Sundae Funday’s Facebook page, giving customers something different to try and another reason to come back. Even the location of the business is something different. It is set back from the other downtown businesses, tucked a distance from the street with an iron gate separating the sidewalk from the patio area, where outdoor seating is available. Indoor seating is available too.

The setup gives them room to put even more fun into the Funday. With music playing in the background, yard games such as bags and giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four can be played, as well as card games available at the counter. It’s a set-up that’s proven a popular draw for customers.

Jorge has seen customers come back with not just their food in mind, but also to continue to be challenged with the games, he said.

”What I like the most about this is the patio,” Jorge said. “We added furniture to the patio so that people can enjoy and relax. We want it to be a family-focused establishment that people can come in and enjoy themselves. I’ve seen people take selfies with whatever they’re eating, and I love seeing people engage in conversation with their phones away or down. That’s how we wanted the space to be.”

The patio didn’t get much use when winter came around, of course, but even with the weather being as cold as it was, it didn’t stop hungry people from wanting their ice cream then the mercury dipped below zero at times.

”People were still coming in, even when it was cold outside; one day we opened and it was negative-30 and we just wanted to give it a try and see how it goes,” Jorge said. “I was surprised how many people showed up for ice cream.”

Cody Cutter

Cody Cutter

These days, Cody Cutter primarily writes for Sauk Valley Media's "Living" magazines and specialty publications in northern Illinois, including the monthly "Lake Lifestyle" magazine for Lake Carroll. He also covers sports and news on occasion; he has covered high school sports in northern Illinois for more than 20 years in online and print formats.