A brand new walk-up scoop shop opened at 120 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Oconomowoc over Memorial Day weekend. And it’s offering up 25 flavors of ice cream daily, complete with a view of Fowler Lake and the popular Boardwalk.
The new Mullen’s Dairy Bar is a second location for brothers Adam, Josh and Matt Keepman who took over the original Watertown location in 2016, preserving a legacy that dates back to 1932.
The Oconomowoc location, which is tucked back among a cadre of shops just behind the busy main drag, is a homecoming, of sorts, for the Keepmans, who grew up in Oconomowoc. But it’s also a keen move that takes advantage of the development in the surrounding area.
“Downtown Oconomowoc has really become a walkable, pedestrian friendly area,” says Josh Keepmann. “And our location between the Village Green and the Fowler Lake Boardwalk has become a summer destination.”
That’s good news for residents, many of whom made the trek to Watertown to get their fill of Mullen’s ice cream, which is made fresh at the Watertown location using milk from Galloway Farm in Neenah, Wisconsin.
Ice cream meets the Wizard of Oz
Guests will find as many as 25 ice cream flavors at Mullens, delivered daily from the Watertown location. Among them are favorites like butter pecan, mint chip, coffee, cookie dough, dirt cake, blue moon and cotton candy, along with classics like vanilla and chocolate (of course).
But there’s also one very special new flavor, which was created specifically for Oconomowoc. The aptly named “Yellow Brickle Road” features buttery yellow custard flecked with chunks of English toffee.
It’s an homage to the “Wizard of Oz,” a film that previewed at Oconomowoc’s (now razed) Strand Theater in August of 1939, making the Lake Country destination among the first locales to show the beloved movie.
The historical connection has been further cemented in recent years. Today, folks can find numerous homages to the film in Oconomowoc, from “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia and artifacts in the collection at the Oconomowoc Historical Society & Museum and visit Oz Plaza, a display of fiberglass statues from the film located at 168 E Wisconsin Ave.
Of course, that’s not all. Ice cream lovers will find a wide variety of ice cream creations, from classic sundaes (including the tin roof, dusty road and banana split) to cones, ice cream sodas, malts and shakes. Particularly hungry customers can also indulge in a Mullen’s classic: the Bigger ‘n Bill – a gargantuan sundae featuring seven scoops of ice cream, three toppings, banana, whipped cream and crushed nuts – named for Bill Mullen who stands 6’7" tall.
Mullen’s Oconomowoc guests will also find the ice cream brand’s dairy-free Savoy Sorbet in the form of popsicles. The treats are made in Milwaukee by Pete’s Pops and come in flavors like triple lemon, Moscow mule, coconut, chocolate and bananas foster.
Meanwhile, Mullen’s wholesale business is taking off, thanks to healthy sales of their packaged ice cream at grocers like Woodman’s, Piggly Wiggly and Festival Foods.
Keepman says they are currently looking at expanding the production facility at their Watertown scoop shop, as well as potentially shipping out some production to a local co-packer. It’s all exciting news for a 89-year old brand that, just a few years ago, was in danger of disappearing altogether.
Mullen’s in Oconomowoc is currently open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Keepman says they’ve not yet decided if the walk-up ice cream scoop shop will be a seasonal business or if it will operate year-round. The decision, he says, will likely depend upon whether they can continue to attract customers as the weather gets colder.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.