CROSS RIVER, N.Y. Barbara Kesslers new ice cream shop in Cross River wouldnt exist if it werent for her son.
Like many young adults, the John Jay Middle School teachers oldest son, Josh, was a restless spirit. After graduating from college, he set out to find himself and spent time backpacking throughout South America and skiing in Vail, Colo., before settling in Seattle.
He told me he couldnt find any good ice cream in Seattle, said Kessler, who teaches Spanish to seventh- and eighth-graders. So, he started making it on his own.
Joshs friends liked his ice cream so much that they encouraged him to open his own store, which he did in 2009. He now has three.
I went out there and tasted it and it was so good that I couldnt eat any other ice cream after that, said Kessler, who resides in Ridgefield, Conn. She tried to convince her son to send her some ice cream, even offering to pay for the dry ice that mailing it would require. When that didnt work, she tried to talk him into leaving Seattle to open a shop back home.
But all his friends are in Seattle and he didnt want to leave, she said. So, I said, If youre not going to do it, teach me how and Ill do it.
And thats how Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream came to Cross River. The shop opened three weeks ago in the strip mall on Route 121 across from Orchard Square.
The main reason I did this is that Ive been teaching a long time and I understand children, Kessler said. I wanted kids to have another place to hang out and be on their own. Parents know me and trust me. Families can come after dinner and play games and talk.
Kessler designed the stores interior, which includes a giant blackboard.
The kids always want to write on the blackboard at school, and sometimes thats a problem if I have a lesson there, she said. Here, they can write all they want.
On a hot Thursday afternoon, customer traffic was steady. Kessler said shes been doing a brisk business since her grand opening, with many return customers. The key, she said, is the quality of the product.
All the ingredients are completely natural with no artificial colors or flavors, she said. Its something I would give my children.
The ice cream machine, which was imported from Italy, plays an important role as well.
It doesnt pump a lot of air into it, she said. Thats why its so dense and creamy.
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