MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On a hot summer night, there’s no busier place in St. Paul, than a couple of benches on Grand Avenue. Babies, teenagers, parents, grandparents, all with drips and drops of ice cream somewhere on their faces.
“A lot of memories for people coming here since they were kids,” said Chase Huffman, general manager of Grand Ole Creamery.
For 35 years, Grand Ole Creamery has been packing them in on the Avenue. The restaurant was born right around the time Heather Huffman’s mom Dawn had a real craving for ice cream.
“We opened when she was eight months pregnant and I was born a month later,” laughed Heather. “We celebrate our birthdays together.”
Three generations have been involved in the shop: Joe Huffman, his kids Gary & Dawn Huffman, and now their kids.
“Growing up here there was nothing I wanted more than to be behind the counter, scooping customers, even though I wasn’t old enough or tall enough to be back there,” laughed Chase.
Today, Chase spends a lot of time among Grand Ole Creamery’s 32 flavors in the case. He said, he and his brother created the popular, and blue, Cookie Monster flavor.
“It’s a combination of cookies and cream and cookie dough, and we colored it blue like the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street,” he explained.
Success for the Huffmans has been a multi-ingredient recipe. First: the location.
“My parents chose a really lucky spot on Grand Avenue, it’s a high-traffic area,” he said.
Second ingredient: the ice cream — Minnesota dairy, hand-crafted in the store, focused on the classics.
“We have 200 flavors we can make, including flavors you can’t find anymore like Butter Brickle and Maple Nut and Pralines and Cream,” he said.
And the third ingredient is both a taste and a smell that brings ’em in: the iconic hand-made waffle cone.
“The waffle cone is our signature, the same thing we’ve been doing since day one,” Chase said.
The batter recipe is top secret, but it’s poured onto a hot waffle-maker, cooks for three minutes, and then has to be rolled into a cone shape while the waffle is still hot.
Not only is Grand Ole Creamery a special memory for longtime customers, but also for St. Paul residents who experienced it as their first paycheck.
“This was one of my very first jobs in high school,” said Keri Schultz, who stopped in the store as we were reporting this story.
Schultz brought her 13-year-old daughter for a treat, a continuation of the legacy.
“It’s all this homemade, home-grown, it’s only in St. Paul, it’s on Grand, it’s a really special place,” said Schultz.
So special that President Barack Obama visited in 2014. He ordered Black Hills Gold, caramel ice cream with crushed Oreos and pralines.
“I believe there are 3 landmarks in St Paul: Cossetta, Mancini’s and Grand Ole Creamery,” said Chase Huffman.
Grand Ole Creamery
750 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.