It took decades to materialize, but Fayetteville’s Old Courthouse Square finally has an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, which turns out to be more than just another pretty facade in the Main Street District.
Years ago, local real estate professionals were often heard saying it was difficult to sell anything but professional offices and specialty stores along the western and southern sides of the Old Courthouse Square. People don’t like to park across the street and walk to the shops, they would say.
Other city leaders had hope, however, that the right kinds of eateries would attract a crowd, regardless of where they had to park.
Downtown Scoops, an independent, family-run ice cream parlor located on the south side of the square, seems to be exactly the kind of restaurant those city leaders envisioned so many years ago. It has the turn-of-the-century look and feel that blends with the neighborhood, and it has the product quality and value likely to attract foodies and families for many years to come.
David Murray, who also owns King’s Watch Repair in Fayetteville, and his father-in-law Don Russell, who recently retired from Staples, opened the doors to Downtown Scoops on Saturday, March 21. They say they were immediately greeted by good crowds in their first days, and their business was boosted even more the next weekend when the City of Fayetteville and the Fayette County Kiwanis Club hosted their first-ever “Suds on the Square” craft beer festival across the street on the Old Courthouse lawn.
Incidentally, Downtown Scoops is said to have been one of the most popular attractions a couple of weeks ago when they served up their ice cream at the annual “Taste of Fayette” event that ran alongside the “Old Courthouse Art Show” and Holiday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum’s “Taste of Living History” events.
Here again, the ice cream itself, while it is presented with clever naming, like “Kiss of the Leprechaun” for the mint chocolate chip, “Better Pecan” for the butter pecan and “Hot Sexy Mexican” for the chocolate with cayenne pepper, is not just for show. It’s really tasty, hand-crafted ice cream made in East Atlanta by mom-and-pop label Jake’s Ice Cream.
The experience at Downtown Scoops is rounded out with 11-3 sandwich creations from Metro Deli and coffee by Fayetteville-based, not-for-profit, micro-roaster Love Nomads Coffee.
If that isn’t enough, you can also find no fewer than 45 different root beers along with cream sodas, orange sodas and other glass-bottled, nostalgic fizzy drinks ready to be added to your six-pack soda cardboard caddy.
And, by the way, we haven’t even mentioned the other desserts and all-day menu items.
“I can see the shop from my office window, and it seems to be a constant flow of people going in and out of there,” said Brian Wismer, whose City of Fayetteville Community Development office is located across Stonewall Avenue inside the Old Fayette County Courthouse. “Obviously, there is a great need for that type of business there.”
Wismer, who joined city staff in 2009, says back in those days a candy store occupied the building where Downtown Scoops is now located. He remembers that, for whatever reason, that store was only open for about five months.
Wismer says he has greater expectations for Downtown Scoops, which he says he frequents as well.
Wismer’s favorite ice cream flavors? “Call Me a Cab” and “Nutter Nanner Elvis”.
“That’s been Main Street’s goal, to bring in small businesses to the Square, and food businesses are great,” Wismer said, noting that recent restaurant additions to the west side of the Square have increased foot traffic in the area.
“There’s so many families walking on that side of the square now,” Wismer said. “It’s great to see it’s starting to balance out.
“Food places drive community,” Wismer continued. “The more things like this we can do, it solidifies the square as a destination.”
It was a discussion several months back between Wismer and Karla Bates, who is a mutual friend of Downtown Scoops co-founder David Murray, that got the ball rolling toward Murray and his father-in-law Don Russell opening up on the Square.
Murray says Bates approached him after she had a conversation with Wismer about the city wanting to see an ice cream store on the Square. Murray says he has always loved the food industry, even though he ended up running his own watch supply and repair businesses, so he was eager to consider the opportunity.
At first, the city tried to get Murray and Russell to consider the city-owned building on the northern end of the Square’s west side. Murray says it didn’t work for them, so they started looking at the south side of the Square.
These days, Murray still bases himself most of the time at the King’s Watch Repair shop in Togwatee Village across Hwy. 54 from Piedmont Fayette Hospital, but he can often be found helping out at Downtown Scoops when he is needed. Otherwise, Russell will be running the show.