Kona Ice now serving Nisqually Valley area

Owners Matt and Melinda Duprel want to make a difference in the community


Kona Ice is now serving shaved ice to the Yelm, Roy, and McKenna areas, with the goal of sharing its philanthropic culture in these communities.

The mobile franchise, featuring its colorful truck, array of flavors and tropical Calypso music, began operating in the region in early July. In addition to its local service, the shaved ice truck is also expanding to Tenino, Centralia, Bucoda, Galvin, Chehalis, Napavine, Adna and Dotty. According to owner Matt Duprel, he and his wife, Melinda, are dedicated to upholding Kona Ice’s commitment to giving back to the community.

“The community has welcomed us. We haven’t done a lot of advertising, but the area is already aware of the brand, so it’s really easy for us to make some connections with people that we want to be able to fundraise with,” Matt Duprel said of the country’s largest food truck franchise.

Kona Ice has raised more than $110 million nationwide since 2007 to local school groups, sports teams and community organizations, among other causes, according to a press release. Matt Duprel said Kona Ice in Yelm will give up to 20% of gross sales to the host of every event they serve.

“Matt shares our commitment to giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Kona Ice, in a press release. “He has always been very passionate about his community and wants to have a positive influence, whether it’s providing new textbooks, sports uniforms or simply a smile. We are proud to have him on-board.”

The Duprels began considering owning a Kona Ice truck last summer after a friend who owns their own truck inspired them. They were excited by the opportunity to give back to the community, and in February, they attended “Kona Kollege,” a three-day training course at Kona Ice’s headquarters in Kentucky to learn how the truck works and how to make a Kona.

“This was Matt’s idea,” Melinda Duprel said. “When he mentioned it to me, I thought it was a little crazy to be honest, but I am really grateful that we got involved in it. Matt’s doing a great job getting out there in the community.”

The Duprels balance operating the truck with full-time jobs and raising two young children. Matt works for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, while Melinda works at WarrCloud Inc. They serve shaved ice primarily at evening and weekend events, including the National Night Out on Aug. 1, where the Lacey residents got a taste of what the Nisqually Valley community is like.

“Just seeing how many people in the community went to that event was really impressive,” Melinda Duprel said. “It was really impressive how many people came to really support the town. Everyone seems involved, and it has a small-town feel, which is nice.”

The Duprels, parents of two young daughters, hope to teach their children about operating a business. Their oldest daughter, 4-year-old Kaylee, has already expressed interest in helping her parents with the truck. For now, Matt said, the kids will have to stick to their toy ice cream kits at home.

“They love playing customer and employee. They’re so young, so it’s a little far away, but one of the reasons that we got into this was to be able to hand the business to them if they choose to go this route,” he said.

Popular stops for the food truck in the Nisqually Valley area include fairs, festivals and other community events. To learn more about Kona Ice of Yelm and to book an event, contact Matt Duprel by email at duprel@kona-ice.com or by phone at 360-559-1574.