Ivy Gray, partner with her husband, Kirt Gray, works the counter at Kirt's Ice Cream in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center.
It took six weeks for the approval process, says Gray, but the ice cream shop finally got its sign.
Kirt and Ivy Gray used to own the Maggie Moo's ice cream and treatery franchise in the Hollymead Town Center, but they got tired of the corporate ball and chain attached to their creativity. So they lit out on their own, opening Kirt's Ice Cream in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center over the summer.
"We wanted to be able to use local ingredients, but the franchise wouldn't let us," says Ivy Gray, working the counter while her husband was away visiting family. "Things like using local peaches or strawberries to make ice cream."
For instance, Carpe Donut owner Matt Rhodie now makes ice cream sandwiches with the Grays' ice cream, made in-house every week, and soon you'll be able to get them at Whole Foods. Kirt's also offers a selection of ice cream cakes, catering options, and bags of Blue Ridge Kettle Korn for sale. These were alliances they weren't allowed to have at Maggie Moo's.
As for the current frozen yogurt craze (Sweet Frog actually took over the old Maggie Moo's space), Ivy says that her husband believes it's a fad that will die down. As she points out, their all-natural, homemade ice cream is just as healthy as most frozen yogurt, and once you pile on all the toppings, she says Kirt's actually offers more for less money. As for richness and taste, the Grays say there is no comparison.
"Our ice cream is so rich," says Ivy. "You don't need much of it."
Ideally, the Grays hope that offering their own homemade ice cream, and making a lot of local connections with other producers and vendors will build Kirt's Ice Cream into the fabric of the community.