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Customers love Taco Pronto’s ice machine

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 11:30 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 11:32 a.m.

Taco Pronto turns 40

Joe Thrush talks about Taco Pronto, which is owned by his parents, Ken and Linda. (Denise Neil, The Wichita Eagle)

Taco Pronto is famous for its delicious taco burgers and for its friendly service.

But the restaurant is really, really famous for something a bit more unexpected: Its ice machine.

Years ago, Ken and Linda Thrush took the suggestion of a refrigeration company and bought an ice machine that produced flaked ice. The ice it makes is amazingly soft and melty – exactly the consistency of ice used to make snow cones.

People now will travel from all the way across town for the stuff.

The Thrushes have many, many ice stories.

Like the woman in labor who made her husband stop at the Taco Pronto drive-through on the way to the hospital so she’d have a cup of her favorite ice to get her through childbirth. Or the bar that used to order a giant cooler of the ice every year to use to make mint juleps on Kentucky Derby Day. There was also the guy who loved the ice so much that he bought his own ice-flaking machine. But he was back at Taco Pronto within six months.

“He said, ‘It doesn’t smell like yours,’ ” Ken Thrush said with a laugh.

Even owner Linda Thrush can’t get enough of it. Her drink of choice: a cup of ice with just a splash of Diet Dr Pepper, “eaten with a spoon.”

Keeping the ice up has been a challenge, though, the Thrushes say. The machine is now an antique, and getting replacement parts in the United States has become next to impossible. Son Joe Thrush said he recently found a place in Japan from which he can order parts.

But the family is committed to continuing to provide the ice to its cult-like fans. Linda Thrush likes to tell the disastrous story of the time she tried to take taco pizza off the menu, only to be met with customer revolt.

“If you think taking taco pizza away was a big deal, try taking that ice away,” she said. “That would be horrible.”

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