Imagine trading in shots and beer for ice cream and sprinkles. That’s exactly what JoAnn and Michael Mohler did when they transformed a former Hamburg bar into an ice cream shop. They opened Amsdell Ice Cream (3041 Amsdell Road) three years ago, in August 2014.
JoAnn Mohler, a self-proclaimed ice-cream connoisseur, said the family has no regrets. She shared her thoughts on the family business, food allergies, milkshake trends and creative recipes over a scoop of ice cream, which they carry in 36 flavors.
Question: So you took an old bar and created an ice cream shop. How did you come up with that idea?
Mohler: We ask ourselves that every day. At the time, we had two teen daughters and we enjoy ice cream. We would always go out for ice cream every Sunday. We thought this would be something good for the neighborhood as opposed to a bar.
We made it work with what we had. The whole inside was gutted and redone. We’ve done a lot of work in the yard – paving, picnic tables, landscaping, lighting. People really enjoy sitting back there and eating their ice cream.
Q: What is your best-selling item?
A: Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae or the Sponge Candy Sundae – we advertised that for 716 Day in July, which was also National Ice Cream Day. That was our special and we sold over 50 sundaes that day.
Q: How do you come up with creative, fun recipes?
A: My daughter loves New York City – people there will stand in line for one hour for a milkshake and pay $10 or $12. We don’t charge that much.
She made a Cake Batter Milkshake and posted it on social media. It’s vanilla ice cream with cake batter and rainbow sprinkles. You roll the rim in frosting and coat it with rainbow sprinkles. Then add whipped cream and more sprinkles.
Both of our daughters, Amanda and Ashley, work here so it’s the four of us and we have great employees. We use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to advertise. We depend on social media. Perry’s made a video about us. It’s on Facebook.
We look at magazines and see different milkshakes - there are fancy, more expensive, elite types of milkshakes. It’s fun to have specials and come up with ideas – people watch for it.
Q: What else sets you apart from a typical ice cream stand?
A: Our customer service. And people come to us from all over because we are so particular with allergies. Our kids and the workers are trained to wear rubber gloves and to separate scoopers so it’s nut free. Nothing is cross contaminated. We offer dairy free, nut free, lactose free and gluten free. We accommodate for allergies.
The Dole Whip is very popular - we have pineapple Dole Whip floats –pineapple Dole Whip with pineapple juice, whipped cream and a cherry. People love it. Dole Whip is a dairy free option.
Q: How does it feel to be celebrating your third anniversary?
A: It went by quickly. I can’t believe it’s already August. We are learning every day. We have a good customer base and good handle on it and we offer big portions. We’re heavy handed. We don’t weigh the ice cream or anything.
Q: Have you considered staying open in the winter?
A: We are open March to October. We’re not sure if winter would work. People tell us they will come, but we’re not positive they will actually come. We have 36 flavors of Perry’s ice cream so it would be hard to keep it fresh all winter. We have Dole Whip sundaes with a lot of ingredients. We stick to March to October.