SANTA ROSA (KRQE) – A historic New Mexico ice cream parlor hit hard by the pandemic is now getting some help from a well-known ice cream brand to stay afloat. It could also mean free ice cream for you. “Bill’s Place was the place to go in downtown Santa Rosa,” says Joe Esquibel, owner of Bill’s Place.

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A historic, family-run ice cream parlor is hoping to withstand the test of time. “For many generations, before school at lunch and after school that was the place to go. Bill’s Place always had their ice cream, their chili dogs, their sandwiches,” Esquibel says.

Joe Esquibel’s family has owned and operated the ice cream parlor since 1947. They also operate local radio station KSSR 95.5 FM  in the same building. “My parents have taken a turn running the business my grandparents have taken a turn in running the business and now it’s the grandchildren,” Esquibel says.

Bill’s Place closed in the mid-’90s but the family decided to bring back the downtown treasure in 2019 as a part of Santa Rosa’s downtown revitalization efforts. “And it started off good for 7-8 months and, of course, COVID came in so for the past 17 months we have been a struggling business,” Esquibel says.

Now, Blue Bunny Ice Cream is helping the business make another comeback, the company awarded Bill’s Place a $5,000 grant in their Heart of Fun contest. “We ended up being one of the finalists and we are very fortunate for that,” Esquibel says.

Esquibel says they plan to use this much-needed boost to re-energize downtown. “We want to bring some life and love back to our community,” Esquibel says. Along with the $5,000, Blue Bunny will have a $1,000-tab open Friday at Bill’s Place, so people can come by and get free ice cream while the tab lasts.