Meet the Leonard Family

Life As A Local Family Living In Queen Creek

Mark and Becky Leonard and his immediate family

Mark and Becky Leonard and his immediate family

Tell us about your family.
Mark and I are high-school sweethearts and have been married for 31 years. We have six children, with four of them married, 12 grandchildren, a wedding for our fifth in September and our baby graduating from high school next May. We are constantly on the go, and day-to-day life is so crazy, but we love every second of it! 

Our days are filled with running our two local businesses, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and The Happiness Breakthrough, spending time with family and exploring new travel destinations. 

Mark has his Doctorate of Education in organizational leadership with an emphasis in positive psychology from Pepperdine University, and Becky is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in exercise science.

How long have you lived in the area? Where do you live?
We had been feeling for months like a change was going to happen, but it wasn’t until we were on a five-week road trip across the United States five years ago that we knew where we were supposed to move. We loved the small-town feel, we loved how friendly everyone was, and we knew God had directed our path. We moved from the Orlando, FL, area to Queen Creek and have felt right at home! 

What is your favorite part about living in your neighborhood?
We have the most amazing, genuine neighbors! We love the way our neighborhood rallies to love, support, lift and build each other in the good times and the hard times. When we opened Jeremiah’s, our Italian ice shop in Queen Creek, last year, our neighborhood came out in droves to support us. Their support for our small business has meant the world to us and truly shows the caliber of neighbors we get to call friends.

What do you like to do as a family on the weekend?
After a long week on the go, we can be homebodies sometimes. There is nothing better than sunset walks along the neighborhood walking trails, a good show on TV, baking treats with the kids and grandkids and family games. The more, the merrier, though; everyone that enters our home is family, and we will share treats and games with anyone who stops in!

Are your children/grandchildren involved in any type of sports or activities?  
Most of our kids have been big soccer players for as long as I can remember. They started in elementary school, and for the past two years, our daughter Abby has played soccer for Chandler Gilbert Community College. Our grandchildren are just getting into sports, but our oldest grandson is obsessed with football and plays for local club teams. 

It's a rainy day (or a 122-degree day!). What do you do as a family around town?
There is one thing we must remember when it is 122 degrees outside. It is a beautiful day inside! Actually, we love heading out to the pools, water parks and shaded trees as often as possible. When the sun goes down, we love finding dinner with an outside patio — Nando’s, Barrio Queen, The Olive Mill, Cold Brews and Cheeseburgers are great, quick, family-friendly getaways. Of course, we have to finish up the hot day with the ultimate cool treat at Jeremiah’s. When it is rainy or cold (below 70), you can find us watching family movies or playing games. 

Has there ever been a moment or time when you didn't want to live in Arizona?
Yes, when Arizona hit the heat wave record last summer, we might or might not have wondered if we had done the right thing by moving to the surface of the sun. But, all joking aside, we love Arizona and would rather spend three months inside because of heat than six months shoveling snow and buried under blankets. Oh, wait, Becky is buried under blankets anyway. But at least we are not shoveling snow.

Where is the best place to watch the sunrise or sunset, in your opinion?
Honestly, we love watching the sunset while sitting next to the pool. However, you can’t beat the Arizona sunset from a rooftop restaurant in downtown Phoenix! 

Where is the best place to go where you feel most like a “local"?
Even though Queen Creek is growing like crazy, we love how small-town QC still feels. Our family loves the parades, Christmas Tree Lighting, Founders Day parade and food truck rally. All of these activities bring us together and help us bond in a way that small-town events always do. 

If you had a recommendation of a little-known "locals" spot to go to, what would it be?
There is a food truck called Tacos 86 that parks in a parking lot just south of Octotillo on Gantzel Road. Good prices and great food! Another great locals' spot would be Diamond Dot Market on the corner of Power and Chandler Heights. Great Mexican food, great prices, but order to go; there isn’t sit-down eating at the gas station market. You won’t be disappointed, though. 

Favorites

Restaurants:
Queen Creek Olive Mill for date nights and Jeremiah’s Italian Ice for dessert. 

Vacation Destination:
Mexico is our favorite. Ironically, we have never been to Rocky Point. However, we love Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. We love when we can unplug from all social media, phone calls and meetings, and Mexico is so close and has so much to offer.

When we need a quick getaway, we love to head up to Sedona. There is a little something for everyone: Jeep tours, hiking, relaxing spas, shopping and great restaurants. 

Favorite Sports Teams:
The only teams that are Becky’s favorite are the teams our kids and grandkids are playing on. Not the answer you are probably looking for, though. Mark LOVES sports and regularly watches BYU football and Los Angeles Angels, and is obsessed with Tour De France and all Olympic sports.

TV Show/Movie:
Our current favorite show is Heartland. We watch it on Netflix, and it’s 14 seasons long. We are currently on season five, which gives us plenty to watch for a little break each evening. What isn’t there to love about horses, drama, good life lessons and family-friendly?

Tell us about your local business.
We are franchise owners of Jeremiah’s Italian Ice of QC, an ice cream and Italian ice shop that has been in business 26 years and started franchising just a few years ago. There isn’t anything else like it around this area, and it is the most refreshing, decadent treat, perfect for a hot summer day or any other occasion. We have people often ask what is Italian ice. Italian ice is thicker and creamier than shaved ice and yet lighter and more refreshing than ice cream. Our Italian ice is authentic, and if you have ever experienced water ice on the East Coast or Italian ice in Italy, you will feel right at home at our place. We also have the most delicious, soft ice cream around, and when you layer the Italian ice and ice cream together, you have perfection called the gelati. With over 40 house-made flavors, we have something for everyone!

What made you want to start the business?
When we lived in Orlando, anyone that came to visit asked for three things: Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, beaches and theme parks, usually in that order. Throughout the duration of their trip, they would ask to visit Jeremiah’s several times. Two years ago, we heard that Jeremiah’s Italian Ice was open to franchising, and our wheels started turning. We have been entrepreneurs for several years, and the thought of opening one of our favorite dessert shops was a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to work in a fun environment with good music, fun team members and the coolest frozen dessert brand?

Why did you choose Queen Creek for your business's location?
Who wouldn’t? The people are friendly. The town is supportive. The population is growing. And Queen Creek has some of the best teenagers around! We love working along the side of the local teens and young adults that are working for us. The amazing school system, sports teams and families have produced amazing budding entrepreneurs. We look at our Frog Squad employees as family, and Queen Creek has the best around.

The business environment is amazing in Queen Creek. The town government and chamber of commerce are some of the most supportive in the nation. The cost of doing business in Queen Creek is reasonable. More importantly, our neighbors here in QC are phenomenal. We love how friendly everyone is, and it feels like everyone in town is part of one big family.

What is your favorite part of owning a business in Queen Creek?
The people, for sure. Over the past two years, we have met more honest, genuine, beautiful humans! We have donated thousands of dollars to the local schools; we have provided treats for churches, funerals, preschools and local businesses; we have volunteered our time at food banks and local charities. Because of all of these experiences, we have had an opportunity to truly see firsthand how special Queen Creek is. It can be easy sometimes to feel disheartened by the state of the world. Gas prices, political divisiveness, supply chain shortages and crime — it can feel overwhelming sometimes. Getting out in the community and getting to know people has helped us see that things aren’t as bleak as they can sometimes seem. Life is good! We have a really great community with people who care about each other and look out for others in need. Seeing that firsthand has been the highlight of owning our business.