Ice Cream Shop Joins Growing Business Community In West Central Neighborhood
An ice cream shop just opened in West Central, a neighborhood close to downtown Fort Wayne. It joins other businesses in the Sheridan Court apartment complex, on the corner of Berry and Union streets.
It opened in time to cater to summertime customers, but as WBOI’s Lisa Ryan reports in this week’s episode of NorthEATS Indiana, its owner hopes to appeal to West Central residents all year long.
I walk into West Central Microcreamery a half hour after Carsyn Gustafson opens the ice cream shop. She’s sitting in one of the store’s two booths, reading, but gets up when I walk through the door. I’m her first customer of the day.
She graduated New Haven High School early, which allows her to work during the day. This is her first job, and she wasn’t a customer until she applied.
“I didn’t even know about it,” she said. “I didn’t even hear about it, and then my mom was like, ‘Hey you should apply there.’ ... So I got the job.”
West Central Microcreamery is owned by Tom Drummond, who also owns two Carousel Ice Cream shops in New Haven and on State Blvd. in Fort Wayne. Drummond used to own Sheridan Court Apartments, until he sold the building to Mike Anderson. The apartment complex was recently rezoned to include businesses like West Central Hair Company and West Central Yoga.
Drummond says Anderson’s work on Sheridan Court is a big reason why he wanted to locate to the neighborhood.
“He wants to make this place a destination for us and for him, so you got the yoga studio next door, you go the yoga studio next door, he’s determined to make this a happening place,” Drummond said.
"We find that ice cream sells best between 75 and 85 degrees."
Drummond makes the ice cream at his New Haven location. His new West Central store has sixteen flavors that will rotate throughout the season. Right now, it’s offering all the regular flavors, like chocolate and vanilla, but more adventurous customers can try Oreo Banana and Candy Shop Floor, a mix of different candies.
Drummond started Carousel Ice Cream five years ago and has continued to expand. He says there aren’t many other places that make ice cream in Northeast Indiana.
“Zesto’s isn’t ice cream, it’s soft serve,” he said. “Dairy Queen is soft serve.”
He says in order to be real ice cream, the final mixture has to be 10 percent butterfat. Soft serve is between 3.5-5 percent. Drummond’s ice cream is 14 percent butterfat.
There is one exception though. Drummond has vegan options, which contain no dairy.
“We are looking to cater to the crowd in this area,” he said.
The vegan ice cream is made with coconut oil instead of dairy. But Drummond doesn’t want to stop at vegan ice cream. He would like to expand into a cafe that would serve soups and sandwiches, which will also include vegetarian and vegan options.
“I used to live here in West Central, and there’s no place to get a pop, no place to get a sandwich, you have to hop in the car and drive somewhere, so we felt that we’d start with the ice cream shop and slowly expand into a café,” he said.
So far, business has been off to a slow start, but Drummond says that’s mainly because the weather isn’t cooperating.
“We find that ice cream sells best between 75 and 85 degrees,” he said. “It gets too hot, people don’t come out either then. So once you start getting 86, 87, 88, people don’t come out either.”
Paul Williams is the owner of West Central Hair Company, just two stores down, and a frequent customer of the ice cream shop, even though they opened just over a week ago. He brought his customer Spencer Maule, who has never been to the West Central Microcreamery.
There are tiny spoons ready for customers to request a sample, but Maule orders scoops of banana cream pie and Oreo banana without trying the flavors first.
“I trust ice cream. It’s a pretty easy thing,” he said.
After trying his banana-themed waffle cone, he tells me the ice cream is great, and he’ll definitely be back. Drummond is hoping there will be many more customers like him.