This week, as our thoughts turn to skiing, skating and hot chocolate, Westport welcomes — an ice cream shop.
Sunny Daes introduces its 5th Connecticut location (30 Riverside Avenue — site of the former King’s service station) with a “soft opening” (ho ho). It will show off its 68 favors of ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt, with free cones on New Year’s Eve.
I don’t want to be the skunk at the garden party, but I’ve got a few questions:
- Will the location work? That section of Riverside Avenue — just beyond the Post Road intersection — has always been a tough business environment. Restaurants and retailers struggle. It’s out of sight — physically and metaphorically — for manydowntown shoppers. Most ice cream shops rely heavily on foot traffic, which is non-existent across the river. And despite a few parking spots in front of the store, getting into and out of the small lot is not easy.
- Is Westport ready for another ice cream place? Carvel carved out a niche around the time the Bedfords and Coleys settled in town. Baskin-Robbins has a prime downtown spot, though it’s suffered since the demise of the movie theaters. Ben & Jerry’s — arguably the world’s most famous ice cream name — recently closed up shop. Gone too are MaggieMoo’s, TCBY and — for far too long — the crème de la crème, the Ice Cream Parlor.
- What’s with the name? Sunny Daes does not scream “ice cream”; in fact, it looks vaguely Middle Eastern. It’s one thing if you’ve got the name recognition of Tom Carvel, but Sunny Daes does not. They must not only introduce themselves to Westport; they have to explain what they are.
None of those problems are insurmountable. Sunny Daes may well thrive. It might lead to a West Bank (of the Saugatuck) renaissance. Certainly, any new business in Westport is welcome.
Even one selling ice cream in the dead of winter.