The ice cream shop at 389 Capitol Ave. opened softly this week, with plans for an official grand opening on July 7. Inside the storefront, visitors are greeted by vividly colored hand-drawn menu boards, offering a dozen flavors in cups, cones and specialty sundaes.
Husband and wife owners Shane and Chantell Boissiere-Kelly are residents of the Frog Hollow neighborhood and have seen Capitol Avenue businesses flourish in the past few years.
“We’ve been thinking about doing something on this block for a long time,” Boissiere-Kelly says. “We looked at The Pantry back when it was available – the timing wasn’t quite right, we had a baby, it was one thing after the other. When this space became available, my husband said, ‘We have to try it.’”
The couple has three young children, ages 3 to 7, and a craving for ice cream or slushes often meant getting in the car to drive to West Hartford for a treat, she says.
They decided that their Capitol Avenue business would focus on ice cream, complementing their neighboring food and drink establishments — Red Rock Tavern, Story and Soil Coffee, the Little River Restoratives cocktail bar and Banh Meee, a Vietnamese restaurant that opened in February.
“It seemed like a perfect fit,” Boissiere-Kelly says. “Everyone loves ice cream.”
Capital Ice Cream features Prospect’s Big Dipper ice cream in classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, mint chocolate chunk, cookie dough and maple walnut, and a few Tofutti flavors offer dairy-free options. Ice cream treats range from $2.50 to $5 for one to three scoops. Extras, like waffle cones or bowls, are $1 to $2 and toppings, like sauces, candies, sprinkles, baked goods, fruit and cereal, are 50 to 65 cents.
Specialty sundaes ($6.25 to $6.75) feature decadent combinations, like The Force, with chocolate ice cream mixed with brownies, chocolate chips and Oreos served with hot fudge in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl. The fruity Yankee Doodle Dandy mixes sweet cream ice cream with strawberries and shortcake, topped with flavored berry whipped cream and a drizzle of strawberry sauce.
A “People’s Choice” sundae, currently left blank on the menu board, will be decided by customer input, says Boissiere-Kelly.
“ We want to hear from people,” she says. “What do you like, what excites you…we’ll really start to create things that everybody wants. We intend on using our Facebook page to get some ideas and have people vote.”
Milkshake and other drink specials will join the menu, and the couple has ideas for smoothies, root beer floats and possibly a coffee collaboration with neighbors Story and Soil. With pastry designer Avery Beamon on board, the shop will also offer baked goods and specialty cakes.
“Our menu will be evolving over time,” Boissiere-Kelly says. “The idea is that people can expect more.”
Capital Ice Cream also plans to give back to the community, she says, with goals to host fundraisers and support local organizations.
On Wednesday afternoon, as a group of children finished their cones and happily darted around the patio furniture outside the shop, Boissiere-Kelly smiled.
“This is a win for me, just watching them,” she says.
Capital Ice Cream is at 389 Capitol Ave. in Hartford. The shop will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in its soft opening phase. 860-906-1308, facebook.com/capitalicecreamhartford.