Summer is finally here, and that means enjoying all of the rewards of the season—including ice cream! And while many of us grew up on the standard chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, there are so many options available now that it might take you right up until fall to try them all. From lemon cake to chocolate raspberry truffle to banana cream pie to vegan and lactose-intolerant alternatives, there’s something for every taste.
“We love ice cream, and we love creating new flavors,” said Churn owner Kelley Costa, about the ice cream they create on-site every day. “Our goal is to create lots of different flavors and a unique flavor blend.”
For the past 5-1/2 years, Churn has been introducing people to new flavors at their locations in Cranberry Township, Gibsonia and Fox Chapel, and they will soon be opening a store in Southside. In addition to their best-selling scoops of ice cream, they also offer a full-service coffee bar, iced teas, cold brews, cakes, pies, milkshakes, Arctic swirls and sundaes.
“We strive to create more of an experience than just a trip for an ice cream cone,” said Costa.
Happy Day Dessert Factory, owned and operated by Galen Moorer Jr., not only offers 12 different flavors on a daily basis, but also a wide catalog of over 50 flavors ranging from Lemon Cake to Raspberry White Chocolate to Danish Sweet Cream.
“You can get vanilla or chocolate anywhere, but when you come to Happy Day, you can get one-of-a-kind flavors that are fantastic and truly unique—like Banana Cream Pie!” said Moorer.
Named after his grandmother, who often sang the song “Oh Happy Day,” Moorer prides himself on the good vibes that his shop provides, despite its tough beginning.
“Our grand opening was officially scheduled to be on March 28, 2020, but then the pandemic hit,” he explained of the quarantine that limited his business to take-out service for most of 2020. “It’s not how I wanted to start off, but we made the best of a bad situation, and I’m happy to say that we are open and have received an extremely positive response!”
Happy Days’ best-selling item is its homemade, premium hard ice cream, and it also offers fresh baked cookies and hand-rolled waffle cones, all made in-house. “We even make our soft pretzels and funnel cakes to order so they are baked fresh for each customer,” said Moorer.
Each day, Happy Day offers at least five different flavors of homemade Water Ice in one-of-a-kind flavors including Purple Gummy Worm, Sunshine Punch and Blue Lemon, as well as dairy-free soft-serve ice cream made from almond milk for vegan and lactose-intolerant customers.
Sara Pilarski’s father, Glenn, understands having a favorite flavor—so much so that it inspired their family-run Bruster’s store in Gibsonia.
“We opened our Bruster’s Real Ice Cream location to combine my father Glenn’s love for ice cream—specifically Chocolate Raspberry Truffle—and my love for business and marketing,” said Sara Pilarski. “I love owning a business within the community where I was born and raised, and running a business with my father is just the cherry on top!”
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream makes all of its products fresh on-site, including ice cream, waffle cones, cakes and pies.
“We make all of our ice cream from scratch daily, so our flavors constantly change. But don’t worry—if you fall in love with a flavor, you can ask to be on our call list, and we will let you know each time we make it!” said Pilarski, adding that best-selling flavors include Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, White Turtle, Black Raspberry, Butter Pecan and Double Fudge Brownie.
Bruster’s also sells homemade ice cream cakes and pies, gift baskets, and Italian ice, sherbet, sorbet and non-dairy vegan options.
Graeter’s most popular ice cream flavor by far is its Black Raspberry Chip, according to District Manager Matthew Howell.
“Our chips are famous, because we pour liquid chocolate into the batch at the end and break it up to form the huge chunks you sometimes get,” said Howell of the dark chocolate chips immersed in black raspberry ice cream.
The fourth-generation, family business started in 1870 in Cincinnati, OH, and now has 56 stores across five states, including one in Wexford and one in Castle Shannon.
“To this day, Graeter’s remains committed to using the best ingredients and using the same process we have for over 100 years,” said Howell of the handcrafted French Pot method. “Our small-batch ice cream doesn’t have a lot of ‘overrun’ or air in it, giving you super creamy ice cream.”
Graeter’s also carries some of its own candies, other novelty candy items and merchandise in addition to its ice cream pies and cakes and fountain items.