A new ice cream shop is set to open in downtown Catonsville within the next two weeks, filling the small space at 821 Frederick Road recently vacated by the Little Sugar Shack candy store.
According to owners Phillip and Rhonda Chase, You Scream Ice Cream will serve hand-dipped Hershey's Ice Cream and low-fat Dole soft-serve ice cream, as well as smaller candies and coffee drinks.
There are a "couple of X-factors" still to be answered before opening, Phillip Chase said, including having contractors finish woodwork in the shop and having the health department give the official approval.
But Rhonda Chase said she and her husband can "see the light at the end of the tunnel," and hope to open as soon as possible.
"We're ready to jump right in and go with the flow," she said.
The couple envision an old-school ice cream parlor where community members and visitors to Catonsville's main street can pop in for a cool treat of their choice, Phillip Chase said.
"We want an old-time ambiance," he said. "We want that 1940s feel."
To that end, he has been searching through old records in the Catonsville Room at the Catonsville Library to find old photographs of the downtown area to help decorate the shop.
The Chases also hope to hire muralist Nathaniel Gibbs to paint a mural in the shop that helps provide a similarly vintage vibe.
The couple, who live in West Edmondale, recruited their daughters Shannon, 25, and Kelley, 22, to help with some of the more aesthetic aspects like paint colors and designs.
"It's definitely a family endeavor," Rhonda Chase said.
Prior to seeing the "For Lease" sign at the new location, the couple had been looking all across the region for a good place to settle, she said.
For the last four years, they have run a weekend ice cream stand at the Patapsco Flea Market in Baltimore, and were ready to expand.
"We just kind of outgrew that," she said. "We wanted independence, we wanted to be closer to home, and we wanted to be in the community. We're really community oriented."
So far, the community has been welcoming to them as well, she said.
"We've met so many people who have been welcoming and helpful," she said. "I think if we opened now they'd come in and roll their sleeves up to help."
The official "You Scream Ice Cream colors" are pink, blue, and yellow, she said, so Hershey's "Crazy Vanilla" ice cream flavor, which is a mix of all three colors, will definitely be served.
The Dole soft-serve they will offer is "unique," and is the same type served in Disney theme parks, Phillip Chase said.
It is low-fat and lactose free, and comes in flavors such as pineapple and strawberry, not just the standard chocolate and vanilla, he said.
They'll also serve coffee -- "We're very proud of the coffee we serve, but I can't tell you (the type), or I'd have to kill you," Rhonda Chase said with a laugh -- and chocolate and caramel candies.
The shop is long and narrow, so there won't be much seating.
But there will be a window on the street so people who can't fit inside, or who come after the doors are locked but before the staff is finished cleaning up for the night, can still place an order.
The shop is small, Rhonda Chase said, "but I think it will be just what we need to step out."
The Chases said they've been encouraged so far with the interest they've seen in the shop.
People have been peaking in the doors to see what's going on inside, including a lot of kids, they said.
They even get the occasional canine visitor who strolls right up to the door of the shop, which used to be the Catonsville Groomery before it was the Little Sugar Shack and before the pet groomers moved next door.
Starting a new business is a little scary, especially with the economy the way it is.
"Of course a lot of people ask us, 'Is this the best time to do this?'" Rhonda Chase said.
But for her and her husband, "there is no best time," he said.
"You just go for it."
The above story was reprinted from the June 4th issue of the Catonsville Times - staff writer.