Brooklyn Bell’s story is by now a familiar New York tale: Owners Katie and Ron Cunningham started making ice cream in their basement and kitchen in 2011 so that they could peddle scoops from a cart at street fairs and other events. In 2012, they’d grown enough that they needed a commercial kitchen, and wholesale orders began coming in. A few months ago, they started running up against what was possible for that space, and so they began looking for a storefront.
“Ron was driving the delivery route, and he saw an open storefront at 843 Classon Avenue” in Crown Heights, business manager Alex James explains. For that space, they envisioned a shop that would hearken back to old school ice cream parlors, slinging scoops, malts, milkshakes, sundaes, and cake sundaes, which tops a slice of cake with ice cream plus matching fruit and whipped cream. They could make all of their ice cream on-site there, keeping their thriving retail business alive while supplying neighbors with frozen treats.
And that’s exactly what the couple debuted a few weeks ago with Brooklyn Bell’s The Local (843 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn).
Brooklyn Bell makes its ice cream the old-fashioned way, with milk, sugar, and cream and without stabilizers or additives. It turns out a frequently rotating roster of eight flavors at a time, even the simplest of which get a bit of a twist. Look for options like mixed chocolate, a blend of dark chocolate and sweet cream; roasted strawberries; maple butter pecan; whiskey vanilla, made with Jack Daniels; and broken cone, which mixes cone shards into a cinnamon base. “Our most popular flavor is black lava caramel,” says James. That one’s are with black Hawaiian lava salt.
Come fall, you’ll see flavors like cinnamon allspice, which pairs well with cobblers and pies, and year-round, you can also find vegan oat bars, sown through with things like blueberry and chocolate. Brooklyn Bell has vegan ice cream in the works, too, in addition to a line of sorbets.
And the shop hopes to get more involved with the neighborhood, too. “We are really happy to be where we are,” says James. “The neighborhood has been super supportive, and people are very excited that they don’t have to travel as far for ice cream.” Look for future partnerships with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Brooklyn Museum, too.
Brooklyn Bell is open Monday through Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m., Friday from 2 to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon until 9 p.m. One caveat on the hours, though: The shop plans to close on the next couple of Mondays in order to finish a few projects.