Despite a bumpy road, New Haven ice cream shop opens on Orange Street

NEW HAVEN — It was a rocky road to get there, but after being pushed back by neighbors and even a legal challenge, Elena Grewal finally opened the doors to her Orange Street ice cream shop on Friday.

“We’re so excited and just… ecstatic that we’re going to be able to open,” said Grewal, an East Rock resident and data scientist whose love for frozen treats inspired her to open a store in her own neighborhood. .

Within walking distance of East Rock Park, Elena’s on Orange focuses on high-quality soft serve ice cream with homemade toppings, according to Grewal.

It is located at 829 Orange Street, at the intersection with Canner Street.

Grewal’s inspiration for the business came from an ice cream truck called Twirl and Dip, which was his favorite place to buy a cone in San Francisco.

Originally from Westville, Grewal spent time on the West Coast for work. After heading back east, she missed being able to pick up a cone on long walks.

Grewal decided to solve this problem herself, although she found help along the way.

Meg Hilgartner, the former owner of Twirl and Dip, has agreed to join the company. She developed the recipes for the ice cream served at Elena’s on Orange, according to Grewal.

The store starts with classic chocolate and vanilla soft serve cream offerings, Grewal said, noting that customers can choose a swirl of both flavors if they wish.

“It’s still definitely falling into place,” she said. “I think we’re going to see more flourishes added over the next two months”

The ice cream also has options for the lactose intolerant: its chocolate soft serve is made with oat milk and made entirely from scratch, according to Grewal.

“We do this daily. It’s sort of our signature oat milk recipe for chocolate,” Grewal said. “We think it’s as delicious or more delicious (than regular dairy ice cream).”

Customers can order milkshakes, coffee floats and sundaes, Grewal said. Homemade topping choices include caramel, chocolate caramel, hot fudge, salted caramel, brownie bits and chocolate chip cookie bits, she said.

In less conventional offerings, visitors can try a homemade “secret sauce” or get their sundaes topped with espresso, Grewal said.

“We also have a signature dip made with Guittard chocolate,” she said, referring to the famous chocolate company. “It’s basically like a magic shellfish dip, but so much better…We also add sea salt to it.”

Originally, Grewal had considered offering wine alongside her ice cream, an unusual combination that would help her stay afloat in the winter. The proposal received a lot of support but also vocal reactions from neighbors, according to two reports from New Haven Independent.

The New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals eventually granted Grewal a usage waiver to allow additional seating with the option of storefront beer and wine service.

But the owners of a neighboring property took the BZA to court, seeking to overturn the decision. The case remains pending.

Their legal complaint argues that the waiver should not have been granted because ice cream and liquor services are not listed as permitted uses under Section 31 of the city’s zoning bylaw, which outlines the types of businesses that may exist in certain residential neighborhoods.

(Restaurants and bars aren’t on this list either, though they may be within a few blocks of 829 Orange Street.)

The complaint alleges that Grewal failed to make the case necessary to earn him a waiver, a claim the city and Grewal have denied in court filings.

“We’ll see what happens,” Grewal said when asked if she might ever introduce wine service to the business. “We are excited to expand our offerings in the future.”

She will continue to listen to the needs of the community in the future, she said.

Grewal was able to complete its project with limited capacity because the site’s former occupant, Ayah-H, was a convenience store with food service.

In that vein, Elena’s on Orange also contains what Grewal described as a “very special convenience store”, selling everyday items residents might need, from pasta to toothbrushes.

“We asked someone to come to our soft opening and buy a toothbrush with their ice cream,” Grewal said.

For now, the store operates with winter hours. It’s open Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Grewal said.

About Thomas B. Countryman

Check Also

Vegan ice cream made from microalgae developed with a “complete nutritional profile”

Sophie’s BioNutrients is on a mission to transform the plant-based meat and dairy categories with …