What’s in a name? There’s a whole lot in Neighbors West Homewood, a new ice cream, candy and sweets shop coming to the former Magic City Sweet Ice location across from Patriot Park since it’s owned by a group of 15 families in the neighborhood. They are aiming to open in April, but follow @neighborshwd on social media or check neighborshwd.com for updates. In the meantime, we chatted with one of the neighbors, Michael Eady, to learn more about the shop.
How did Neighbors come to be?
I’ve lived in the neighborhood about five years and have built meaningful relationships here. I run a creative agency downtown, but I have always had an interest in putting a business in my neighborhood. My friend Johnny Grimes, who owns Wheelhouse Salon with his wife, and I were talking about investing in something in Homewood and available real estate. My house is one block from Patriot Park, and so we inquired about this space. Magic City Sweet Ice was there before, so we knew a dessert and ice cream shop had had some success there. That’s when we started to dream about what it might look to have multiple families in the neighborhood own it together. We had a meeting about that idea one night at my house in the backyard spread out, and it was well received. It just kind of naturally happened.
Can you tell us about your ice cream and other food and drink offerings?
Primarily we will serve ice cream, and we will have 20ish dairy-based traditional flavors. We will more than likely serve drip coffee, water and sodas, and we’ll have a candy selection for a lower transaction opportunity. We are having conversations about collaborating with restaurants in the neighborhood. I think at some point we will have some different sweets made in the shop, but are limited in that we don’t have a big kitchen.
Tell us more about the vision behind the name “Neighbors.”
Most of the families have bought into it because it’s an investment in the neighborhood. We want people to come to the shop that don’t live in West Homewood, but we know 90 percent of our business will come from our neighbors. Several hundred houses can walk to our shop. We want it to be like old Cheers, so when a family walks in, we want our customer service representatives to know their names.
How are you designing and renovating the space?
It will have new floors, ceilings and walls and look totally different than before. We are putting an outdoor service window for people to walk up to, so you don’t have to walk into the shop. Kids pour out of Hall-Kent Elementary School down to the park, and part of our hope is for them to come to their shop. Inside of the shop we want it to tell the story of the neighborhood too, so you’ll see parts of the neighborhood come to life whether it be street names or pictures of families who live here.
A lot of people ask you if all the owners knew each other before this started. What’s your answer to that, and can you tell us all their names?
Each family involved has a different story, and a lot of them didn’t know each other before this but were intertwined in similar networks. And they know each other now. In addition to my wife, Sarah Beth, and me, the owners are John and Leslie McElheny, Will and Jana Flinkow, Payton and Heather Junkin, Paul and Apryl Simmons, Jonathan and Maria Fleisher, Carlos and Mercedes Alemán, Bernard and Stephanie Mays, Christopher and Jenna Bailey, David and Rebekah Ytterberg, Andrew and Trista Wolverton, Erik and Lauren Gibson, Johnny and Courtney Grimes, Brittany and Robert Sturdivant, Matt and Amanda Leach, and JW and Becky Carpenter.