Ice cream dreams bring back sweet memories to Joe Schembri.
There were family trips to what he remembers as “Roger’s Place” on State Road 52. Later on, ice creamy treats came from a shop near a Home Depot, known affectionately as the “Home Depot” ice cream.
“All we did was ice cream every week,” said Schembri, who lives in Land O’ Lakes. “That was family time and we loved it.”
The shop will host a “customer appreciation day” and grand opening on Oct. 22 from 1 p.m. to 3
The triple “m” in the name is part of the shop’s signature logo, and a reminder of yummy ice cream cones from childhood.
The menu of specialty flavors for children and adults add a non-traditional punctuation to the shop.
Just plain vanilla won’t do.
Instead, flavors include creamy vanilla bean, rice pudding, sweet corn, cotton candy, and an overload of Oreo cookies in cookies n’ dream.
The newest recipe, available for adults only, is pecan bourbon neat. Other adult flavors are the tried and true favorites of Rum Haven and whiskey-laced Fire N Ice.
Still, Schembri hasn’t forgotten what he loved about the ice cream experience. The Ice Dreammm Shop is a very traditional family place, a throwback to the old days.
Chess and checkers games are laid out on tables.
Children can pick from more than 20 games like pick up sticks and dominoes.
A flat screen television tunes into children’s programs.
A sofa and chairs in the entry way are a comfy, living area. The restroom has a baby-changing area.
If students or professionals want to settle in with computers, and hang out for a while that’s the idea, said Schembri.
Families are welcome to linger, too.
“Parents can sit and eat while the kids play,” he said. “Everyone can relax. I see parents showing kids how to play chess, and kids showing parents how to play chess.”
Schembri began laying the foundations for his shop nearly two years ago. He researched on the Internet. He watched videos all about ice cream machines. He talked with ice cream shop owners to find out about the challenges.
Schembri quickly learned about the community of small business owners, especially ice cream shop owners.
Everyone seemed willing to share advice and experiences including David Alima, co-owner of the Charmery in Baltimore.
Schembri got excited when he found a dealer in Brooksville who sells ice cream machines.
“This is in my back yard. It must mean something,” he said.
Schembri also went to an ice cream “boot camp” at The Villages, a retirement community near Orlando.
“We got to play with the machines, making recipes,” Schembri said. “I loved it.”
He worked for months making up recipes in his garage and testing them with friends at parties.
“All good things start in a garage,” he quipped.
His girlfriend, Brooke Purvenas, helped him scout locations and found the storefront at the plaza off State Road 54, near Highland Oaks Preserve subdivision.
Purvenas works days at Ice Dreammm.
Schembri takes over in the afternoon after he leaves his job at Bisk, a company that partners with nonprofit universities to promote online learning programs.
Schembri also partners with local companies, such as In the Loop and Craft Life Brewing. “We put their beer in our ice cream,” he said.
Coffee is from the Hemp & Coffee Exchange in Tampa.
He is constantly dreaming up new flavors and he’s also open to suggestions from his customers. They jot down potential flavor combinations and he considers them.
Cherry pineapple, apple tart, flan and blue cheese and walnuts have their fans. And, one day they could be on the menu.
A recent addition is chocolate bacon toffee.
It may not seem like a combination that would work, but it’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart, Schembri said.
“Why not have something unique?” he asked.
That sentiment — of being one of a kind — seems to fit right in with Ice Dreammm Shop’s general theme.
Revised Oct. 12, 2017