July ’08 Scoop

R & R
We hope this letter finds you well.
In late June, Ryan and Eric traveled to The Ice Screamers, a collector group in Lancaster County that is interested in the history of ice cream and soda fountains. This is an annual personal vacation to chat with other passionate members from all over the world about ice cream objects. We supplied 3 old-fashioned ice cream flavors served up with accompanying stories, histories and regional interest. We also found a wonderful place to stay in downtown Lancaster, a 19th century tobacco barn converted to a boutique hotel (Lancaster Arts) that was a perfect stepping off ground for some exploring. And treasures abounded! Within a few brick blocks, we found Demuth’s Tobacco Shop, the OLDEST TOBACCO SHOP IN THE COUNTRY! since 1770, remodeled in mahogany in 1917. After a pouch of pipe mixture and a fistful of Pennsylvania leaf-wrapped stogies, we emerged in a cloud of hazy euphoria. Incidentally, if one visits Demuths, be sure to check out the home and studio of Charles Demuth next door, the Precisionist painter whose factory smokestack paintings of the 30s surely must have been influenced by his tobacconist background. And if you can’t make it to Lancaster, one can visit his work at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan in New York City.

Early the next morning, we awoke to visit Lancaster’s legendary Central Farmer’s Market for breakfast baked goods and local produce. For two bachelors, any chance to buy groceries is rare and valuable, and shop we did. Eric was wooed by mouth-watering green stalks being pruned by an elderly woman at Hodecker’s Celery stand while Ryan romanced a pint of organic black raspberries, freshly picked by farmer Tom, a young Mennonite man who has an enterprising gift of gab. At $7 a pint, he was sold and 12 hours later served them at a Rittenhouse Square dinner party, over Franklin ice cream and fudge, of course…

We hope this letter finds you well. Ryan and Eric have been learning many valuable lessons, from proper delegation and fine-tuning recipes to the systematic care of all aspects of daily store operations like the streamlining simple things such as spoon placement and fudge warmer rotations. As our mind wraps around the idea that we are actually in the restaurant business in the year 2008 and not 1908, we have about 100 years of catch up work. This looks very different from the outside as it does from the inside. While last summer, Ryan and Eric were almost completely tuckered out from 7-day-a-week operations, we’ve realized that it is best to serve our customers by working smarter in our 4th Floor Office, keeping ourselves slimmer & trimmer from the long flight up. We’ve invested into many grassroots efforts and have seen happy returns from those. In their proper place, The Grateful Dead station has been found on our radio for us to connect with the actual chaos most restaurants experience in the 21st Century (see The China Cat Sunflower @ right). It is hard for customers to imagine this world. For us, it has become a performance art. We’ve found this our natural method of meeting customers one cone at a time. While we grapple with compassion for the local homeless population which seem to lap up our cream from trash cans the city is disregarding, we can only feel helpless to solve problems beyond our control, but by meeting them one human being at a time.

With the assistance of our accountant, we have tackled and learned Quickbooks, a program of vital necessity for any small time business like ours. Our accounting system at best had been up until this point a cigar box method of cash accounting and money drops at our local bank up the street paying every bill immediately in cash or check. Quickbooks, however, is best found by losing oneself in the slowness of the past, namely thinking at 1908 speed to absorb as much information as we can along the way. While we’re puttering along in a hand-cranked Model T, most businesses operate in gas guzzling turbo-charged Hummers along The Indianapolis Speedway. The Art Deco mantra of speed has been implemented in our most critical areas. More light gives us a chance to see what we’re doing. Not only have we multiplied positions (summer driver, prep crew, 3 ice cream makers and 3 designated managers), we have also multiplied systems for keeping all of this well-cared for and managed, properly-ensuring the quality and consistency of customer experience at every level. While we have certainly sped along, we have so much further to comprehend as we live paradoxically into the 21st Century.

Around The Town
In addition to giving an ice cream demonstration at Foster’s Urban Homeware on Saturday June 28th, the Fountain was featured in a variety of Philadelphia news channels in the month of June and July. Two online press pieces of note: streetalkin.com and Channel 3’s feature on the shop, which will air online again this weekend Finally, CNN 8 featured the brothers cranking homemade blueberry ice cream early in the morning of July 9th live in their studios at the PSFS building.

Just this Monday, the demolition crew arrived early to start dismantling our neighbor’s building at 112 Market Street. Ryan jumped at the chance to salvage the Victorian tin ceiling and he and Patrick expended great energies over the next few days taking it apart, panel by panel. The building, only half remaining of a 19th century brick structure, once housed Feitig & Son Meats in 1918, and a massage parlor later in the century as evidenced by the cedar-paneled sauna that was torn out. If the real estate market holds its stomach, a 5-story condominium building will rise from the dust.

Nothing’s New That’s Not Old
We’re belting out the 7th Inning Stretch Sundae in ode to the popular 1908 song “Take Me Ou
t to the Ballgame.” FOX News will be featuring the Berley brothers serving up this sundae on their morning show Monday July 14th at 8:50am in anticipation of their station’s All Star Game coverage.

We have also called up from the dug out: fresh locally sourced Blueberry and Black Raspberry ice creams for July.

Eric is moving into one of the apartments above the Fountain, with a whole new outlook on personal materialism. He’s literally lived out of milk crates and an aesthetic performance lifestyle for 4 hectic years and is looking forward to a shorter commute!

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