Three years ago, in the spring of 2011, two teachers took the leap and started an ice cream company. Since then, Purple Door Ice Cream has become a Milwaukee staple, with owners Lauren and Steve Schultz pumping out 900 gallons of deliciously creamy ice cream a month, even during the slow season.
And tomorrow, April 1, they’ll open their very first scoop shop to the public.
"It’s still very surreal," says Steve as we walk through the new Purple Door Ice Cream at 205 S. 2nd St. "In some ways I still haven’t connected with it totally. But, when you walk in and see your retail manager training staff, the reality does start to creep in."
Prior to January, Purple Door had been sharing space with Clock Shadow Creamery, right down the block. But, when their production exceeded the capacity of the space, they knew it was time they considered a move.
"It was really a storage issue at Clock Shadow," says Steve."We needed a space that would allow us to increase production and continue to grow. And when the space right down the street in Walker’s Point became available, we knew it was meant to be. It was perfect timing."
The new facility offers the company not only increased production space, but also a beautiful new retail storefront where customers can purchase ice cream cones, pints and other sweet treats.
Decorated in bright colors, including Purple Door’s signature bright purple and orange, the scoop shop is a cheerful spot with bright floor-to-ceiling windows, colorful hand-painted tile, and seating for between 20-30 customers. Outdoor seating will also be available later in the summer on surrounding sidewalks.
The shop was designed with environmentally conscious elements, including non-adhesive click flooring that contains 72 percent post-consumer recycled materials, and a bright orange solid surface stone countertop, which also contains recycled elements.
And repurposed materials also play a role. The retail counters feature "spoon walls" – a collection of over 250 spoons, new and old, that were given to Lauren and Steve by friends and family expressly for the purpose of display in the new shop.
"We worked with Retailworks for the space design," says Lauren. "And during our conversations, it came out that we’d need a sort of cool, sculptural element for the space. That’s when we thought of the concept of a ‘spoon wall’"
Rather than collecting spoons themselves, the Schultz’s solicited family and friends to offer up unique utensils.
"People started giving us spoons that were really meaningful," Lauren goes on. "So many have stories attached to them."
One or two are baby spoons that were used years ago to feed children. At least one is a spoon from a friend’s wedding. Friends from out of state sent the couple state-themed spoons.
"My grandmother gave me one that she got from her grandmother," Lauren says. "It’s so fun that so many people now have a really personal connection to the shop."
The scoop shop will offer a rotating variety of ice creams – including new flavors like chocolate peanut butter, Brandy Old Fashioned, toasted coconut, toffee butter pecan, and rum raisin – as well as classic staples, all of which can be made into ice cream sundaes, malts, shakes and sodas, or piled into house-made waffle cones.
The shop will also offer a series of new novelty ice cream products, including ice cream cakes made with Oreo or graham cracker crusts and frosted with whipping cream, grab and go gallons of ice cream ($33), regular and mini-sized ice cream sandwiches – both regular and gluten-free – ($4.25/$2.40), as well as multi-packs of sandwiches. The shop is also working with a local artist cooperative to feature ice cream bowls made by local artists.
Future features include ice cream pops, one-ounce scoops of ice cream dipped in chocolate and served on a stick.
Beginning April 1, the shop will be open to the public. Hours will be Sundays from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m.
In addition, the public is invited to attend a grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 12, which will feature live accordion music and $2 ice cream scoops, $1 of which will be donated to a new community organization for their Milk for Milwaukee program, which will be announced at the event.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.