Growing up, Wiggins was raised by parents who owned an ice cream parlor of their own in Caldwell, Texas, where he worked as his parents’ honorary taste-tester.
After moving to Houston in his early 20s, Wiggins decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and opened Hank’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1985.
“That was one of his dreams,” his daughter Aladrian Mims said. “He always wanted to open up his own ice cream parlor, and he’s always had the mentality that he wanted to be self-employed and be his own boss.”
Since Wiggins’ death in late 2011, his wife, Okemah Wiggins, and daughter have owned and operated the store that serves over 100 rotating flavors of ice cream to its customers year-round, drawing in locals and even celebrities such as Beyoncé, who visited the shop during her childhood.
“We’ve got pictures of her when she was 8 or 9 years old,” Mims said.
Among the shop’s seasonal flavors are sweet potato pie during Thanksgiving, peppermint and eggnog for Christmas, and mango during the summer, while a few of the most popular flavors are sweet cream, banana pudding, Texas Oreo and butter pecan.
Along with the quality of ice cream that is available to buy at Hank’s, Mims said what most separates the parlor from others is its friendliness and desire to focus on getting to know customers.
“We’re just a simple mom-and-pop shop,” Mims said. “People like to come in here, and they just like the atmosphere, because we’re very nice. My dad always said, ‘You have to have great customer service.’ The ice cream is good, and they’re going to come back for it, but he was always very friendly with his customers.”
Hank’s Ice Cream Parlor
9291 S. Main St., Houston
Hours: Tue.-Sat. noon-8 p.m., Sun. 3-7 p.m., closed Mon.