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story.lead_photo.caption Mellby's Chill Zone sells its ice cream creations at the Holts Summit Community Celebration on Saturday evening. Photo by Ken Barnes / Fulton Sun.

Mellby's Chill Zone in Holts Summit is opening a new event space as part of the business — The Chill Zone, with a capital T.

The ice cream and snow cone shop, started by Jefferson City High School sophomore Shelby Mell, has been doing well since its opening in March and had received comments from customers about expanding the space.

"We started talking about something bigger, where groups could come in and rent for birthday parties and special events," said Joe Mell, Shelby's father. "So we created The Chill Zone."

Joe Mell said it was their luck the space next door had been empty for over a year. Shelby was able to work out a deal with the owner to use it for The Chill Zone.

The 2,400-square foot event space includes family-friendly activities for guests, including 10 arcade games, a pool table, foosball, a stage and dance floor, projector and speaker system.

Joe Mell said safety during COVID-19 is a priority for them — it can be booked for private parties of 40 people or fewer, and employees will walk around to clean games after use. Masks are not required, and guests are asked not to come if they are feeling ill.

They also installed a 16-foot-long food bar and added a small food menu, including pizza, hot wings and nachos.

"We want it to be family-oriented, much like the ice cream shop," Joe Mell said. "(The Chill Zone) is set up like a regular game room in a bar, but with the twist of no alcohol, no cigarettes and no e-cigs. You're not stuck smelling smoke or dealing with someone that's intoxicated."

The Chill Zone will continue to offer discounted food prices to local law enforcement, as Mellby's Chill Zone has done.

The new event space came in handy after Shelby and Joe joined Holts Summit Community Betterment Association. When the HSCBA met for its first business meeting in early September at The Chill Zone, they asked the Mells about a fundraiser for Friends of Holts Summit toward building a splash pad in town. The idea quickly took off and became the Holts Summit Community Celebration, held Saturday.

"It went from a small idea to a huge event," Joe Mell said. "We had to get everything in order in under three weeks."

They planned to host it at The Chill Zone and booked local band Murphy's Ford to play there, but after posting about the event, it quickly gained popularity. They brought the idea of expanding the event to the city, and it was well-received due to the lack of events happening because of COVID-19. It was moved to the baseball fields at Greenway Park in Holts Summit, which lent enough room for proper social distancing and plenty of vendors to participate.

The Chill Zone hosted a food handler class Thursday evening for those who were to serve food at the event, including a local Boy Scout troop providing food as part of a joint fundraiser with HSCBA.

Most businesses that contributed will donate 50 percent of what they make to the Friends of Holts Summit splash pad fundraiser.

"Whatever we make, we'll try to make great things happen for our little town," Joe Mell said.

Donations to the splash pad effort also may be made at friendsofholtssummit.org

Shelby Mell has already gained support for her entrepreneurship — the 15-year-old was asked to be a guest speaker Tuesday at the Mid-MO Business Improvement Group. She'll talk about starting a business at a young age and give advice to other teen entrepreneurs.

"She's not taking any notes; she's going to speak from her head and go," Joe Mell said. "I think she'll be a great speaker. She's my baby girl — she's doing great things."

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