Hollywood producer from Seymour visits Zaharakos for video series

COLUMBUS — As one might expect, Seymour native Craig Hall’s introduction to Zaharakos was pretty sweet, thanks to a banana split he dipped into a few days ago.

“Everything was great. Beautiful. Amazing,” Hall said of the 1900 confectionery in downtown Columbus known for its historic Mexican onyx soda fountains from the 1904 World’s Fair and 1908 Welte orchestrion.

The 51-year-old creator, writer, director and one of the executive directors of the video series “Indiana’s Story,” currently available on Facebook and aimed for Amazon next spring, had never heard of the ice cream parlor during his formative years before leaving for Hollywood in 1991.

Hall and a camera operator visited last week to include the place in his TV series that he hopes to see land on PBS.

The episode is expected to be seen in maybe March 2023. A separate crew from the Fox Broadcasting Network was expected to visit Zaharakos on Monday to include in a segment of its docuseries based upon the New York Times bestseller “A History of the World in Six Glasses.”

For the Hoosier show, Hall interviewed local businessman and philanthropist Tony Moravec, who elaborately restored Zaharakos in 2009, and Moravec’s former assistant, Debra Slone, a well-known history buff.

Besides being impressed with the shop, Hall was impressed with the adjacent museum, which includes a myriad of old-fashioned soda fountains and more.

“Quite a collection,” Hall said.

He took in the upstairs restored family living quarters with Slone, who offers official tours. For now, he’s uncertain how much of his interviews and footage will make the final cut of 24 to 26 minutes of a completed episode.

“We were able to get a lot of footage,” Hall said. “I have a feeling that most, if not all, of the (basic) information will at least be mentioned.”

The two soda fountains captured his attention as much as anything.

“Imagining what the price of those were back then, for (the Zaharakos brothers) to be able to buy two, well, they must have been selling a lot of ice cream and candy,” Hall said. “And then of course, the music machine in the back of the store, well, all of those things are just amazing pieces.”

Hall conceived the series after being inspired by a California PBS series “California’s Gold.” He mentioned his state celebration is about “highlighting and showcasing the people, the places, the things that really make up Indiana history,” as he put it.

“These are places that are a draw not just in the local community but also well outside of that,” he said.

Slone loved the chance to be a part of the show.

“I thought it all went very nicely,” she said. “I’ve always loved Zaharakos, so any time I can promote it, it makes me feel good. It really is a gift that Tony gave back to the community.”

Slone reminisced about one of her favorite parts of the sh0p, beyond the decor, when she worked nearby for then-Cummins Engine Co.

“I loved their coney dogs,” she said. “I just thought they were delicious.”

On the Web

For information about the ice cream shop, visit zaharakos.com.

For information about the video series, view the Facebook page for Indiana’s Story.