(Photo | courtesy of Elly’s Ice Cream)
A hankering for a sweet treat during a neighborhood stroll proved the inspiration for a couple to turn a business passion into reality — culminating in the formation of Elly’s Ice Cream, which recently opened at the evolving new commercial development in Bend’s NorthWest Crossing known as The Grove.
Elly Sisney, who started the venture along with husband Tim, explained, “About this time last year we were walking around the North-West Crossing neighborhood, where we live, and were really craving some ice cream but realized there were no options in the vicinity.
“The lightbulb went off, as we saw a gap in the market coinciding with the emergence of The Grove as an ideal place to be potentially be positioned, with such a business benefitting from the development’s philosophy of driving traffic for a number of compatible tenants.
“Ice cream is often an impulse buy, and we could see people, for example, having dinner at one of the other spots in the complex then coming by for dessert.
“You could say the birth of this idea was something of a ‘COVID baby’ as my previous business involving event marketing was decimated by the pandemic onset and it catalyzed the desire to move in a new direction. It had always been my dream and passion to start something in the food space.”
Following the initial inspiration, the couple set about formulating a comprehensive business plan and undertaking significant research, including touring ice cream emporiums all around the Pacific Northwest to identify best practices — an exercise Elly admitted was “not the worst” assignment anyone had been presented with.
She added, “We ended up working with a gentleman out of Washington who specializes in making ice cream, starting out with 30 flavors, while also asking him to collaborate with us on 30 additional custom-made offerings. So, we have developed seasonal items like peppermint bark for the winter, or apple and pumpkin sauce variations for the fall.
“We are a modern-day ice cream shop with nods to the classics, serving the very best natural ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible.
“Our ice cream is rich and velvety using ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, including USDA Organic-certified, milk, cream, eggs and berries. It is made through sustainable practices, in small batches using more cream and less air resulting in what we think is simply the most superb ice cream.
“We also partner with local businesses, such as Two Sweet Cakes, to make our brownies, cookies, chocolate and marshmallow crème and house-make some of our toppings including house-spiced pecans, cashews and granola.”
Elly said the decision to be one of the first businesses to locate in the Grove, while the building was still being developed, was taken in part to take advantage of summer traffic, following a Memorial Day weekend opening. There are also plans for an “after-school” menu to cater to students from the four academic facilities nearby.
She added, “This is kind of back to the future for me as back in high school my friend and I worked at an ice cream shop, and now some 20 years later she owns one in Wisconsin and I have one on the West Coast!
“We have had a great response since we opened and noticed quite a few repeat customers already as the word gets out and The Grove continues to take shape.
“My husband and I recently got married, purchased the rental home we were living in and started our ice cream shop all in NorthWest Crossing, so I guess you could say we’re firmly planting our roots in this amazing community for the long-term!”
The Grove, off NW Mt. Washington Drive, officially opened in late May, with its 14,000-square-foot Market Hall anchored by Bend Brewing Company’s “Waypoint” outpost, which joined Elly’s and Thump Coffee’s fourth location in town as the earliest tenants to establish a presence at the site.
Italian-inspired Sunny’s Carello eatery also has positioned a food truck adjacent to the location, prior to opening a permanent facility which is being built within the complex and expected to open this fall, along with Sebastian’s Seafood & Specialty Market.
A more recent wave of tenants arriving in the Market Hall this summer, includes Left Coast Burger Company, ThAiPAS and Green Leaf Juice.
Chris Jones, development manager for Portland-based project^, added, “We are thrilled to have welcomed our tenants thus far and the broader community to The Grove.
“We have had tremendous commercial interest in The Grove, in large part due to our sound ecological practices and our ability to accommodate evolving social and business requirements, as well as the building’s design-conscious aesthetic which seamlessly connects to the Central Oregon environment.”