Matt Smith grew up on Downing Street in South Buffalo, within view of the neighborhood Dairy Queen. He remembers watching winding lines form outside the window of the chain ice cream shop in the summer months, as families had relatively few alternatives for a dessert run.
Now, as Smith — a co-owner of Abbott Ice Cream (381 Abbott Road) with Ron Morris — peers out of the walk-up window of his new ice cream shop, he's hopeful that his local business will satisfy the neighborhood's demand for more ice cream options.
Catering to those strolling by or cycling along Abbott Road near St. Thomas Aquinas Church — known colloquially as "St. Tommy's" — as well as those who live within the neighborhood surrounding the parish, the new ice cream window adds a few twists on the classic ice cream stand.
For those craving the standards, the combination of freshly made waffle cones and Hershey's Ice Cream is enticing, especially considering the ice cream brand is relatively tough to find in the area.
"We wanted to stand out by serving Hershey's," Smith said. "You can't find it in [many] grocery stores; here, you can even get a pint ($5) or a half-gallon ($10) to go."
Morris, a veteran who's worked in restaurants across the United States from Seattle, Wash., to Vero Beach, Fla., has been a tenant of Smith's for four years; the pair began exploring a business plan two years prior to their early May opening.
More focused on the food side of the business, Morris touts two regular specialties: the peanut butter ice cream pie and the hot fudge Ghirardelli brownie, both $6.
The peanut butter ice cream pie proved a tasty treat. The creamy vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirls toned down the aggressive sweetness usually expected from a peanut butter pie, but spoonfuls that included ample caramel and chocolate sauce were reminders of the dessert's decadence.
Credit Morris for a phenomenal buttery, flaky crust that suited the pie perfectly. I had to resist the temptation of finishing it while driving home.
The brownie sundae fell a little short of the pie; the brownie was crunchy around the edges and would have benefited from being warmed before serving (you can't have it all, I suppose), while the chocolate sauce didn't deliver the richness or thickness one would expect from the "hot fudge" designation.
Soft-serve custard, available in vanilla, chocolate or twist, runs $2 for 4 ounces, $3 for 8 ounces and $4 for 12 ounces, in either a cone or a bowl. There's a $1 upcharge for waffle cones or brownie bowls. The Hershey's hard ice cream — available in 32 flavors, including kid-friendly Magical Unicorn, bubble gum and Superman — costs the same as the soft serve. Sprinkles may be added for no additional charge.
Humans aren't the only beneficiaries of Smith and Morris' menu, though, as the Bowser Bowl has been a popular seller through the business' first two weeks. For $3, dogs may enjoy a bowl of vanilla ice cream, peanut butter sauce and a crunchy dog biscuit, since canines are known to appreciate textural variety.
Abbott Ice Cream doesn't offer much in the way of seating; a nearby bench in front of neighboring business Kennedy Sign and Design, which has worked with the new shop for its signage, can fit three comfortably or four snugly. Still, there's room to tarry by the window, and the ice cream holds up well for a walk around the neighborhood.
INFO: Abbott Ice Cream, 381 Abbott Road. Hours: 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The stand will be open between March and September or October, the owners estimate. 472-6451.
*Three interesting notes: Abbott Ice Cream accepts credit cards, and veterans, first responders and other servicemen receive a complimentary upgrade on a cone or bowl. The shop is serving Monster energy drink shakes, too, which are probably dessert-lovers' version of a Four Loko.