GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An ice cream shop in Grand Rapids East Hills is adding a production facility.
Furniture City opened about 10 years ago as a store serving ice cream made in-store on Cherry Street. Owner and operator Rachel Franko said the space was quite small and inefficient for stovetop craft ice cream, and the company grew out of the space about six years ago.
He said production has moved to a 4,000-square-foot building in the Creston area. 1416 Northern Boulevard. It would “take a long time” for a location near Spencer Street to open.
Franko started looking for a new manufacturing facility about six years ago, but he said several things, including the pandemic, derailed the search.
“It was a huge undertaking to get to this point, so it’s a huge accomplishment,” he said.
Although customers may not notice a big difference, the production move will make the ice cream shop more efficient because some equipment will be removed to make more space, Franko said.
“This makes it more functional for our team and … allows them to get across the line and move things forward more efficiently,” he said.
He also said he wants to offer more grab-and-go options.
Franko hopes the move will ultimately allow him to open more Furniture City locations, as having a separate manufacturing facility will allow the business to supply multiple stores.
“That would be the real goal,” he said. “It just depends on where things are run…everything has its own cost. “So it depends on what we can do to keep everyone busy, keep everyone financially stable.”
Operating in the new space will allow the company to double party sizes and expand its catering service. He also said he wants to bring Furniture City ice cream to smaller boutique markets, and the new production facility will allow him to focus more on developing new flavors.
Franko purchased the coffee-producing Creston facility about a year ago. He estimates production will resume in about three months but said there will be a bit of a learning curve. It plans to hire two part-time employees for the expansion, and two of the current part-time employees will become full-time.
“We are excited to grow and get to a point where we can do more of the things we wanted to do all along,” he said.
It’s “surreal” to finally see the expansion come to fruition, he said.
“I think it’s hard to be able to grow as a female business owner and being on the dessert train here, not just getting people excited about you, but because people don’t look at us the way we do. “They are looking at other types of businesses,” he said. “Honestly, it’s still unreal that we’re at this point, and it’s thanks to the team we have that works so hard, just puts our heads down and puts out ice cream and does the best we can.”
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