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Holly Ebel: An ice cream shop, with a Twist

May 16, 2018 GMT

It’s getting to be that ice cream time of year, and the perfect place to go and enjoy this treat is Chocolate Twist, an old-fashioned ice cream and candy parlor.

It’s the newest social and entrepreneurial project of Rochester’s Boys and Girls Club, and as early returns come in, it’s a winner.

Open just since February, it is becoming the “go-to” place for both ice cream and meeting friends.

“It’s a perfect place for kids and families to get together,” said Claudia Tabini, a club board member who helped make this project a reality.

What makes this venture unique is that it is both staffed and run by club members ages 14 and up.

They also don’t just come in and start scooping out ice cream. Before that happens, they all must undergo a thorough training in the bones of running a business from basic finance, knowing the product, and learning inventory.

Also on the agenda is marketing, customer service and basics as cleaning, sweeping and sanitation. The hope is that the experience will give them the incentive to find better jobs in the future, “a stepping stone,” said Tabini.

Housed in the former Paine Furniture building, at 311 S. Broadway, the front half is where the ice cream and candy are, while the back is shared with the Rochester Children’s Museum, a perfect partnership. They have brought in giant games of chess, Connect Four and puzzles.

All in all, it’s a great place, both front and back, for youngsters and teens as well as families to meet and enjoy an ice cream cone.

Customers will have a tough time choosing from the 24 flavors.

Most popular is Superman, a psychedelic swirl of colors in yellow, blue and red. There is also Birthday Cake, Blue Moon, Cookie Dough, Purple Rain and This Just Got Serious. (Yes, that’s the flavor.)

Zanzibar is an incredibly chocolate flavor and also a big seller. Italian ices and soy ice creams are also available.

A single scoop is $3.25, a double is $5, and a Junior Scoop is $2.50. No malts and milkshakes yet, but they may eventually join the list.

“Right now we are feeling our way,” said manager Maura Henn.

Chocolate Twist also offers an assortment of candies including a variety of truffles and boxed favorites like Junior Mints and Dots.

The ice cream is super premium and is produced by the Chocolate Shoppe in Madison. Tabini and Henn traveled there to learn all about the ins and outs.

“I didn’t realize there was so much to learn, like how best to preserve (ice cream) and how to ensure it is at peak flavor,” says Tabini.

The project is a result of years of planning and discussion by the board looking for something that could generate funds for projects.

Among the other criteria for the project: It had to be downtown, be a part of the community, and generate income. It had to also offer training to the kids involved.

It would seem they hit the jackpot with Chocolate Twist. What should also prove to be a bonanza is that they will have a booth at Thursdays on First, right by Lasker’s.

One thing they offer, which to me seems like a brilliant idea: Ice Cream Party in a Box. This is a cooler bag, complete with ice pack, that holds 3 pints of ice cream (your choice of flavor), cups and spoons, and a scoop. What a great surprise for colleagues at work, to take to a friend, or bring home.

Hours are 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. During the summer, the store will open at noon. For now, it is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

As I was leaving, I was struck by the message of a sign outside the entry. It says: “Helping people never tasted so good.” Isn’t that the truth?