Dessert for breakfast?
When you take you and your family on a tour of two nationally known sweet spots located within less than a mile of one another in Norfolk, you probably won't be able to avoid it.
The tour starts at 9 a.m. That's when Albert Doumar fires up the one-of-a-kind machine that bears his family name, the one his uncle Abe invented more than 100 years ago when, legend has it, he invented the ice cream cone.
Truth is, others claim they invented the ice cream cone, and no one knows for sure who made the very first one. But regardless, watching cones being made by hand the same way they were made a century ago is an experience.
Doumar spoons the batter onto one of the four waffle irons, spins the iron and sets it over the flame. About a minute later he removes the flat waffle, wraps it around a wooden mold and sets it up to cool and harden.
Once you've eaten your fill of ice cream, go around the corner and see how modern sweets are made during a factory tour of Rowena's: the industrial-size mixers, the ovens, the stacks of boxes that will carry Rowena's gourmet products to customers all over the globe.
After the tour, be sure to visit the gift shop, where you can sample Rowena's cakes and sweet and savory sauces.
Address: 1919 Monticello Ave., Norfolk
Hours: Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to after midnight.
History: Legend has it that Abe Doumar, a Syrian immigrant, invented the ice cream cone and began selling the sweet treat at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. After the fair he designed a machine to bake 4 waffles for cones at a time. In 1907 he brought his parents and three brothers to the United States and opened a stand at Ocean View Amusement Park during the Jamestown Exposition of 1907. After the 1933 Storm destroyed the facility, Abe's brother George opened a restaurant at the current location on Monticello Avenue. Today his son Albert Doumar can be seen behind the counter most days.
Trivia: On a single day during the Jamestown Exposition of 1907, Abe Doumar sold nearly 23,000 ice cream cones at his location at the Ocean View Amusement Park in Norfolk.
Directions from Interstate 64: Take exit 276 toward the Naval Base. Merge left onto U.S. 460 toward Little Creek Road. Turn right onto Monticello.
Landmark: You can't miss the red and yellow sign and the red awnings covering the drive-in bays.
What's there to see: Albert Doumar, now in his mid-80s, or other family members make fresh ice cream cones weekday mornings at 9 a.m.
Cost: Ice cream cones cost from $1.60 (for one dip) to $2.70 (for a "Big Cone."). Or buy a souvenir jar of two dozen cones for $8.
Tip: Make sure you have cash — Doumar's doesn't take checks or credit cards.
Rowena'sAddress: 758 West 22nd St., Norfolk
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
History: Rowena Fullinwider, once known as "the cake lady," started baking cakes to raise money for local charities. She opened the manufacturing facility that bares her name in May of 1983. In the years since Rowena's has been featured in Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Southern Living magazines. Fullinwider is also the author of two children's story and cookbooks and "Celebrate Virginia," focusing on Virginia history and including 300 recipes.
Trivia: Virginia Gov. George Allen declared Feb. 20 Rowena Fullinwider Day.
Directions from Doumar's: Go north on Monticello Avenue, heading toward 20th Street. Turn left on East 21st Street. Turn right on Colonial Avenue. Turn left onto West 22nd Street.
Landmark: Keep an eye out for the mermaid — dressed in red polka dots and a white ruffled apron — in front of the retail store and factory.
What's there to see: Tour the two kitchens, two warehouses and learn how Rowena's serves mail order customers across the globe. While there, check out the tearoom.
Cost: Tours cost $2 and reservations are required. Tea in the tearoom runs from $2.50 (for a 2-cup pot of tea) to $19.95 (for the full afternoon tea).
Tip: Make sure to call ahead to schedule your tour. Rowena's doesn't do walk in tours.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun