Person of Interest: Meet Rig French
By Kylie Cooper
By: Kylie Cooper Photos by: Rachel Benavides
In the very first issue of The Bend Magazine, we sat down with the Frenches to talk about how a family, with two sons who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, made life work for them. Today, we catch up with one of those sons, Rig French.
So, Rig, what have you been up to since the last time we caught up with you in april 2014?
I graduated high school in May of 2017. With the help of my parents, in May of 2016, I opened up my own shaved ice business called Mr. Rigaroo’s Shaved Ice in Portland. I also got a job at McAlister’s Deli in Portland to keep me busy during the time that Mr. Rigaroo’s is not open – but I plan on working at McAlister’s a couple of days a week while it is shaved ice season, as well. During football season, I also enjoy helping announce football games for the GP Wildcats.
How did Mr. Rigaroo’s Shaved Ice get started?
Towards the end of my junior year in high school, my parents knew I wanted to get a job. I had applied for a job a few times, but I never got hired. So my parents helped me start my own business so that I could have a job, and help other people out with jobs also.
Why shaved ice?
My parents thought shaved ice would be a good thing to add to Portland that nobody else had. We had gone on a trip to Hawaii, and we all loved getting shaved ice there. It is so hot here that my parents thought it would be a good way to cool off, and we thought it would be a fun job, too! I like to meet people and talk with new people, and I get to meet lots of people when I take their orders.
What do you feel Mr. Rigaroo's has brought to the community?
I feel it has brought a new treat to cool off in the summer. It is a fun place for kids to visit, and we like to take the shaved ice trailer to school events when they ask us to come. I really like to make people laugh and smile. My shaved ice trailer is a fun place to be!
If you could be any shaved ice flavor, what would you be and why?
My favorite flavor is Red Velvet Cake with a cream topping. I would be that flavor because it is not an ordinary flavor; it is special. It has a very sweet taste. It is different, but once you taste it, you see how wonderful it is.
What is in store for the future of Mr. Rigaroo's?
Well, I want to continue to operate my shaved ice business. We have two trailers now. We have one that will stay parked at HEB in Portland, where we have been for the last two summers, and we will start our 3rd season there in April. Our first season we were located in another part of Portland. We got a 2nd trailer to do more school events and sporting events. I like what we do for the community of Portland, and I would like to continue doing that. I plan to just keep on making people happy serving shaved ice. Hopefully, I will be able to continue doing this for many years. I would love to be able to do radio or voice-overs; people tell me all the time that I have a radio announcer voice. I would really like to start doing some commercials on the radio.
What inspires you?
I was a PAL in high school, and I got to spend time with kids at the elementary schools. I played games with them and read to them. I really enjoyed spending time with the kids and making them laugh and smile. I looked forward to seeing them each week. Even though I am not a PAL anymore in school, I still go and read to kids each week. They look forward to seeing me, and I look forward to seeing them. Seeing their smiles and making them happy inspires me to always try to make people feel good.