Chill out: Cenla Sno Biz features tailormade flavors

By sno biz reporter

jamilla bynog barnes sno biz cenlaJamilla Bynog-Barnes is a self-proclaimed snow cone connoisseur.

“I’ve had snow cones in every state I’ve ever visited, even in the South Caribbean,” the 30-year-old small business owner said.

Cenla Sno-Biz opened officially earlier this week, but Bynog-Barnes opened the window a couple of weeks early to provide free samples. “We had such a great response,” she said. Bynog-Barnes and her sister, Deanna Bynog, claim Alexandria’s only shaved ice stand.

Shaved ice should not be confused with a traditional snow cone. “Our ice has been compared to a cloud,” Bynog said.

The process begins with a block of ice placed into an ice shaver. The shavings drifting into the styrofoam cup resemble falling snow. “A lot of people love just the plain ice,” Bynog-Barnes said. “We have one lady who has come every Saturday to get a plain ice in every size.”

The Rev. Darryl Freeman visited Cenla Sno Biz with his 12-year-old son, Caleb Freeman, and 9-year-old Cedric Hamilton. Both Rev. Freeman and his son ordered plain ice, while Freeman’s wife, Linda, waited in the car for her strawberry shaved ice. “I love the shaved ice,” Freeman said. “Just the plain, shaved ice. I love it.” Caleb has visited Cenla Sno Biz once before, and he said he likes the shaved ice better than traditional snow cones because the ice is softer.

Bynog-Barnes and her sister have already made a name for themselves in the neighborhood in which they grew up. “I grew up in this neighborhood there right behind this,” Bynog-Barnes said, pointing to an area off Lee Street Extension near MacArthur Drive. “My parents used to have to drive me all the way to Jackson Street to get a snow cone when I was a kid. You can tell that the community is a very appreciative one. We’re very family oriented, and we want to give everybody a superior product and A-one customer service.”

Repeat customers have begun to identify themselves, and the sisters who spend most of the time in the shop said they’ve made new friends.

poison ivy shave ice“In the last three weeks, I’ve been her about eight times,” said Alexandria resident Debbie Bailey. On this occasion, she was visiting with her grandchildren, 7-year-old Jayla Kelly and 9-year-old Jakaree Fields, and two nephews from Killeen, Texas, 12-year-old Darrius Salter and 8-year-old Deontrae.

Jakaree ordered Cotton Candy, while Darrius ordered Orange and Jayla and Deontrae got Poison Ivy shave ice. “To me it tastes good,” Jayla said. “It tastes like pineapple,” Deontrae said.

Bynog-Barnes prides herself in her flavors – all 105 of them.

“All of the flavors are homemade,” she said. “There’s real lemon zest and fresh-squeezed lemon in the lemonade flavor. We use real banana extract in the banana flavor. It’s not just flavored sugar water. Our cream is like no other. It doesn’t just come from a can. It’s milk, butter, vanilla – this is a homemade cream.”

As for variety, there are standard flavors including strawberry, cotton candy, Tutti Frutti and Tiger’s Blood. And then there are Bynog-Barnes’ specialty flavors.

Instead of school colors, Cenla Sno Biz boasts school flavors, including the Peabody Warhorse, the Pineville Rebel. Then there are flavors for movie buffs, including ones that represent “Twilight,” “Star Wars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

“We have the Yoda, which is kiwi, lime and green apple – all the greens – and when someone orders it, we (tell them) ‘May the force be with you,'” Bynog-Barnes said.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” shaved ice contains kiwi, piña colada, pink lemonade and black cherry flavors, each of the representative of a character in the film.

“Just this week we’re introducing (a flavor to represent) Bill and Sookie’s return to ‘True Blood’,” Bynog-Barnes said. “It’s cherry and Tiger’s Blood. And, coming soon will be a Harry Potter Butter Beer shave ice flavor.

For music fans, Cenla Sno Biz offers a flavor inspired by Justin Beiber. “He’s a sweet kid and he always wears purple and blue, so it’s a grape and raspberry flavor,” Bynog-Barnes said.

She’s constantly thinking of new flavors and seeking new inspiration. “You have to be creative,” she said. “I’m a movie geek, a snow cone connoisseur, and I have a baking background and a quirky intellect. It’s a total creative process.”

By Jodi Belgard,, June 28, 2011

Filed in: Featured, News • Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

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