Deep freeze: Yukon’s newest ice cream magnates set up shop in Whitehorse

Behind the counter, Cheryl Wilcox has a large tub of rainbow-coloured plastic spoons and she’s not afraid to use them.

Behind the counter, Cheryl Wilcox has a large tub of rainbow-coloured plastic spoons and she’s not afraid to use them.

After all, where’s the fun in owning a gelato shop if you can’t hand out free samples?

Cheryl and her husband Bruce willingly hand out tiny tastes to anyone who walks into their new Whitehorse joint, Scoop’em Jim’s.

That’s part of the atmosphere they want to create, he said.

“We want to portray a family environment. You can bring the kids, the kids can run around, they can do whatever they want.

“Who cares if they drop ice cream on the floor? That’s what they make a mop and pail for.”

Cheryl and Bruce are familiar faces to Yukon’s ice cream lovers.

After managing the original Scoop’em Jim’s in the Carcross Commons, they officially bought the business this past summer.

Bruce estimates they scooped a little over two tonnes worth of ice cream this past summer, using about 7,000 cones and 5,000 bowls.

“In essence, we’ve probably done well over 12,000 or 15,000 scoops of ice cream just in a three-and-a-half month period,” he said.

The Carcross location only opens seasonally. Cheryl said customers encouraged them to start a year-round location in Whitehorse.

“They were awesome. They just said ‘Come to Whitehorse, come. We could really use another ice cream shop.’”

The Carcross location will still be open every summer. The new Whitehorse location, inside the Westmark Whitehorse hotel, is open seven days a week from noon to 8 p.m.

“We can retire later,” Cheryl joked.

“This is actually our semi-retirement business,” Bruce added. “It looks like it’s not semi-retirement anymore.”

With two locations, the Wilcoxes are officially running the Yukon’s only locally owned gelato chain.

They sell gelato, frozen yogurt and sorbetto from Mario’s Gelati, a Vancouver-based company that makes its frozen treats in-house.

“To me anyways, it’s what ice cream used to be before they started putting a lot of air into it,” Bruce said.

“Gelato has less than 20 per cent air in it, whereas ice cream has anywhere from 45 up to 70 per cent air in it.”

The ice cream on the menu is from the Canadian brand Chapman’s.

It’s hard to pinpoint which flavours are going to be popular from one week to the next.

“One day chocolate can be a big one and the next week will be salted caramel,” Cheryl said.

Right now, they’ve got 24 flavours.

White chocolate raspberry, espresso flake, chocolate peanut butter, and enough fruit-based flavours to cover all the colours of the rainbow are all up for grabs.

At full capacity there will be enough room for anywhere from 36 to 38 flavours.

The grand opening of the Whitehorse location was this past Saturday. There was no serious advertising campaign, just a post on Facebook and a lot of word-of-mouth.

Business was steady that day, they said.

“We’re trying to put hospitality back into small business,” said Bruce, who was a camp cook by trade.

“It seems like of late it’s been all about the bottom line and I’m tired of hearing that.”

Neither seems too concerned that they’re launching a gelato business just as the leaves start to turn.

“Actually, the statistics say that people tend to eat more ice cream in the winter than they do in the summertime anyways because they watch more TV, they stay indoors more,” Bruce said.

“So this is definitely comfort food all the way.”

Along with cones and cups, they’re also selling half-litre tubs to take home.

Despite their busy schedule, the couple is already talking about finding themselves an ice cream truck next summer.

It’s all about becoming a community business, they say, the kind of place where customers know the owners and the owners recognize their regulars.

“We want to avoid the corporation label,” Bruce said.

“It seemed like a lot of our customers were ready for a change.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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