Someone you should know: Bob Hayman
HEBRON - A giant chocolate/ vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream cone; a steaming sandwich bulging from its bun; a cup of slushed ice so blue it dyes your lips. Bob Hayman has a hundred treats waiting for you, and he wants you to love whichever you choose and then come back for more.
“What I have to offer in this little corner ice cream place is a connection, a good experience, small town relationships,” says Hayman.
His parents bought the place in 1966 and operated it as a Dairy Queen franchise. It had been empty for a few years before they fired it back up again, and the Haymans – who had always done garage/ mechanic work – made the move from Marion to Hebron to get into the ice cream business.
In 1974, the Haymans were able to buy the building and property and broke from Dairy Queen to become independent. Ten years later, Bob purchased the business after his father was killed in a robbery at another location.
“I actually hated this business at first,” Hayman confesses 25 years later. A graduate of Lakewood High School, he had served in the Marines and was happy in management at Marion Power Shovel. “I went from wearing a tie to flipping burgers here,” he recalls with a chuckle. “Then I came to love it. It gets in your blood and it becomes the thing you can’t let go, the thing you want to hand down.”
More than four decades ago, the late Norma Hayman (mother of six, including Bob), found the time to make food from scratch for the Dari-Bar. Today, her recipes for coney sauce, shredded chicken sandwiches and Sloppy Joes are still used and still keep customers coming back for more.
In 1966, Hayman said, there were 10 items on the menu. Prior to the by-pass and Interstate, buses of travelers on U.S. 40 stopped for a treat. “There are pictures of lines wrapped clear down the road,” he said. “This place was extremely busy.”
And it still appeals to the community that Hayman says has kept it alive all these years, from celebrating ball teams to retired couples out for a drive. “The community has been good to us,” he said, “and I hope we offer something to it, too. I’ve had a lot of kids work here over the years. This is a place a 15- year-old can come work if they need a little money and a lesson in responsibility. They get to be like my own kids, and you almost cry to see them go.”
Go they do, though, and then come back to buy ice cream cones for their own children, making Hayman realize how quickly time passes behind a happy counter filled with colorful sprinkles.
“It’s those people with kids that make it worth the struggle to keep prices low,” he notes. “I don’t drive a Mercedes, but you can bring your family here when things are tight and treat them to ice cream without mortgaging your house.”
The big chain restaurants will always get a crowd. The small-town, family-owned place, he said, “has to be about interaction.”
Hayman remembers a night 15 years ago when he went into the Dari-Bar to close up and found the teenage girls working there had engaged in a whipped cream-chocolate war. The floors, walls and the girls themselves were covered. “Your first reaction is to be mad, but then you look at them covered in goo and you can’t be. What I’ve got here are teenagers, and they just come up with the goofiest stuff,” he said with a shrug and a grin.
The Dari-Bar is open from April through October, leaving Hayman the winter to “play with real estate,” a hobby of his, snowmobile in Michigan and care for the three old Camaros he’s had since he was a kid. Hayman’s wife, Susan, works at Licking Memorial Hospital, and the couple has two grown children, Rob and Chastity. His 8-year-old grandson, Scotty, can build an ice cream cone with the best of them.