After years of pop-ups and a pivot into home delivery, a local ice cream company has whipped up its own parlor.
Spotty Dog Ice Cream Co. plans to open a brick-and-mortar location this June within the new mixed-use building rising at 2416 Jefferson Ave. in Union Hill.
The 1,400-square-foot ice cream shop is expected to have seating for 30 to 40 people as well as a takeout window. The shop will also be home to the company’s ice-cream production facility.
“It’s like an old-school, diner-y feeling where you’re watching the action behind the counter but in this updated, modern setting,” said Alex Miller, who co-owns the company with his wife Hannah Sager.
Spotty Dog will sell cones and pints of its house-made ice cream and also plans to offer milkshakes, sundaes and other treats like chocolate tacos and ice-cream sandwiches.
While prices haven’t been set yet, the plan is that a single-scoop cone will cost around $4 and pints will cost around $8-$9. The company is working on dairy-free ice cream and hopes to have it ready when the store opens.
“A lot of customers ask for it and we see a need for it,” Sager said.
Spotty Dog makes New England-style ice cream, which the duo described as a notably dense, flavorful and creamy style.
“It makes for that really creamy and decadent eating experience. Because there’s that higher milk fat you can build more intriguing flavors that linger on the palate,” Sager said.
Sager’s favorite at the moment is the company’s Miso PBJ, a roasted strawberry ice cream with chunks of peanut butter miso cookies. These days her husband favors Salty Choco Chip Cookie, which features salty fudge and sweet cream ice cream paired with a chocolate chip cookie.
The upcoming store is the culmination of a plan that’s been in the works since the company, which is named for the couple’s Australian Shepherd Mason, launched in Richmond in 2017.
What started as a home hobby in which the couple would give away their creations morphed into sales of ice cream scoops at pop-up events by the spring of 2018. When the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic began to be felt locally in March 2020, the company pivoted to home deliveries of pints.
“Our goal from day one is what we’re doing now, opening a shop. The deliveries and pop-ups, we loved doing it but all of that we’ve seen as a means to spread the word and get people into our ice cream and have that support,” Sager said.
Sager is a lawyer for the federal judiciary and plans to step back from that gig to focus on Spotty Dog full time. Miller works in advertising.
Spotty Dog declined to share its investment in the new shop. They hit a fundraising goal of $25,000 in a recent Kickstarter campaign, which is expected to cover most of the store’s equipment.
Spotty Dog expects to continue home deliveries when the store opens and plans to hold off on pop-up events for at least the first year of the store’s operation, Sager said.
The store’s prices are expected to be slightly higher than the prices the company has charged thus far, a change that comes in response to the rising cost of ingredients and expenses tied to running the store and paying staff.
“We want to keep prices as low as we can to keep it accessible for everyone,” Miller said.
Spotty Dog currently makes its ice cream at The Green Kitchen, a caterer space at 314 N. 25th St. The plan is to move all production operations to the Jefferson Avenue space once the shop opens.
New England-style ice cream was a big part of Miller and Sager’s upbringing and something they bonded over when they first met in Boston.
Miller is an upstate New York native who grew up eating the ice cream. While Sager is from Northern Virginia, she grew up going on family vacations to a ski town in Vermont.
“Ice cream culture is just different there. People eat ice cream in the dead of winter and it isn’t weird. We want to bring that culture here,” Miller said.
Added Sager: “It’s the kind of ice cream we both love and grew up eating.”
Work on Spotty Dog’s new home is underway. The new mixed-use building by Matt Jarreau and Daniil Kleyman will also feature Slurp! Ramen and 21 apartments.