Author: Catherine Smart
Date: April 7, 2016
New Englanders are known for eating ice cream year-round, but one sure sign of spring is the reopening of seasonal scoop shops. After going into hibernation for the winter, Gracie’s Ice Cream, in Union Square, Somerville, is back to the business of serving unique flavors like Pop-Tarts Pourri, St. Patrick’s Day Guinness, and Salty Whiskey, this time with a little help from their neighbors. Katrina Jazayeri and Josh Lewin, who own the newly opened Juliet next door, are helping Gracie’s owner Aaron Cohen smooth out operations and standardize practices behind the scenes.
Though the pair has been focused on launching their own restaurant, Jazayeri and Lewin’s touch is evident in places like the new hot beverage program with homemade instant hot-cocoa mix, and the addition of some slightly more highbrow flavors, like orange-saffron. Cohen, who has a 2-month-old baby (Gracie’s brother) and runs the EAT Boston event company, realized it was time to call in reinforcements: “I’m not as good at the day-to-day stuff as I want to be,” he says. “It’s a lot better now to have experienced people who have that bone that I don’t have.”
But the quirky shop and vision are still very much Cohen’s. “I like ice cream with stuff in it . . . cookies and cereal. Being so close to Market Basket I can walk up and down the aisles and come up with different flavor combinations,” says the owner. Some of the free-spirited flavors also make a lot of financial sense — think Broken Cone and 50% Off Easter Candy. “I think we try to have accessible flavors on the spectrum, but they are not exactly normal flavors that you would get at an old-fashioned ice cream shop,” he says.
Many of those flavors are a nod to Union Square’s proud reputation as the home of Fluff: peanut butter Fluff and chocolate Fluff pay homage to the sweet spread invented in the square. You can even have your cone dipped in Fluff and torched into a treat that’s basically two-thirds of a s’more. As Cohen says, “It smells divine.”
“I live in Union Square and I love ice cream, and I realize neither of those are really good reasons to open an ice cream shop in Union Square,” says Cohen. He also admits he wanted to please his daughter, for whom the shop is named. “You can’t get a really good black raspberry chip at very many places, and that’s her favorite flavor. She just calls it purple.”
Gracie’s Ice Cream, 22 Union Square, Somerville, 617-764-5294, www.graciesicecre.am