Ice Cream Dream: the tale of West Side Creamery
Sometimes you can have the perfect idea, but it isn’t the right time or place. Then, when you least expect it, that perfect time and place align. The scene is set and the universe is screaming at you “Now is the time!” Would you have the guts to go for it?
West Side Creamery is that kind of perfect idea. One that has been waiting for just the right time and just the right place. West Acton’s highly anticipated new ice cream shop is a perfect addition to the bustling community center. It’s a three family collaborated effort, a group of friends who decided that they absolutely had the willingness to go for it, as it’s been something they’ve been chatting about for years.
The initial brainstorm started over ten years ago when meeting as young parents when their kids attended the Acton Cooperative School. The love of ice cream and inspiration from the community the families treasure has driven this new venture. Always feeling that there was need in town, they would wonder, “Why doesn’t Acton have an ice cream shop? It would be so perfect!” Now, as their children have grown to be in high school and beyond, this idea has come to fruition. Such kismet that the perfect location they found is in the space of a former pre-school. Surely, there is a scoop of magic in that.
We got to sit down with Jim and Andy who represent two-thirds of the co-founding families of West Side Creamery to chat about the experience of their new journey.
SOTB: So how did this all get started?
WSC: It is the love of ice cream (laughter). There was always a sense that there was a hole that Acton didn't have ice cream. We always talked about it, this was years and years ago.
Then, when West Acton Village Works got built out, and the center of West Acton really blossomed...
WSC: We had looked at that spot, which was the Montessori school [at the time] and thought, ‘that would be a great spot for ice cream, it is so charming’. So we talked to the developer of Village Works [about five years ago] and said, ‘if a spot ever opens up, let us know.’
Sure enough, years pass and then they got the call.
SOTB: How were you feeling after getting that call?
WSC: Well we were a little nervous, because it was one of those things, if you want to do the ice cream shop, now is the time.
SOTB: So you all make the decision to go for it. Then what did you have to learn?
WSC: We are still learning! One of us went to ice cream school, well ice cream university. There is actually such a such a thing! He went to learn the craft. Which is very important.
SOTB: How about research?
WSC: That was one of the best parts, doing our competitive taste tests, we went all around the area. We came in clearly knowing we wanted to make our own ice cream and that makes it a lot more work, but we had a defined vision of what we wanted to do, and we had to know that from the beginning.
SOTB: How did you come up with the name West Side Creamery?
WSC: We were looking into something historic, and found out that this area of Acton used to be referred to as the, ‘West Side’, so that just stuck.
SOTB: What’s different about West Side Creamery?
WSC: One of the reasons we really wanted to do this was for the community. We see it as a community gathering spot. Also we wanted to create a sense of localness, working with local stores and vendors to incorporate local ingredients into what we do. It isn’t a walk up stand, the shop has a different feel. We really want it to be a great experience. You know, ice cream is a magical moment, and we want to make sure that whoever we hire is friendly and delivers on that experience.
SOTB: What products are you using? Where are you sourcing your dairy?
WSC: New England Dairies. It’s crazy that we are finally getting to the ice cream, it has been since June and that has been a learning experience. It has taken patience, because there is a lot that goes into it if you want to do it the right way.
SOTB: How have you crafted the menu? On Instagram you threw out the question to the public asking what they would want to see. Is your menu that organic or did you come in with some definites.
WSC: At a high level we want 75% traditional flavors and 25% seasonal flavors so that you can always have something new and exciting for people. We have had a lot of response from the community about allergy options and vegan options and we are working on that. Those are things we have to get right, we have allergy issues in our families so we get it, and we have to do it right.
SOTB: What is the first definite on the menu?
WSC: Black Raspberry.
SOTB: What has been your favorite part of this whole experience?
WSC: You know, it’s different, life is short and this is something different and new to do. We like the way the community is so excited about it. It kind of feels like Willy Wonka bringing this treat to the town, not to sound tacky, but people love ice cream and they are excited. It is something people have wanted. It is a good time to to do it when you see everything that is happening in West Acton. There is so much that is walkable now. There is a lot of revitalisation and energy.
SOTB: The shop is beautiful, it is 100% a hip modern ice cream shop.
WSC: That is our wives doing. They had a vision of something rustic modern and worked together to pick everything out.
SOTB: This is an amazing opportunity for you to model to your own children that you can have an idea and bring it to fruition. It is great for them to see that.
WSC: It is interesting, normally we’ve gone to work and there is that separateness, which can be good and bad. But now this is something they are heavily involved in. Every night the kids are asking us about what is happening. They have been really helpful as well.
SOTB: Can you believe you met so long ago and that years down the road you would share this other venture?
WSC: That’s life right!? You just never know what’s coming. I remember us coaching soccer together and taking the team out for ice cream after tournaments. You just never know what happens.
Go on and check them out! Get a cone and window shop in West Acton, head across the street to the playground, or sit and people-watch the afternoon away. It will surely be the place to be.
Three Cheers for Three Families that made their sweet dream a reality!!