Sweet spot: Candy's Creamery serves ice cream in Geneva's Mill Creek neighborhood
The label on the tub of ice cream read "Cookies Galore." And with that, Candy's Creamery in the Mill Creek subdivision of Geneva had me sold.
The ice cream shop at 39W250 Herrington Blvd. in a small retail strip that serves the subdivision and surrounding area has been open about nine weeks.
It is, of course, the only ice cream shop within Mill Creek, seeking to establish a type of neighborhood or "corner store" feel to it for adults and kids to stop in by car, bike or foot.
Owner Candy Bengson and her family are hoping to lure more customers from outside of Mill Creek.
"It's been challenging" getting the business in place after a year of research, including equipment and ingredients needed to make homemade ice cream, Italian ice and other treats.
Bengson has a lot of positive things going on at the business, at which husband Tim, and sons Ethan, 21; Evan, 18; and Ian, 16, represent the work crew of the family-owned operation.
"We love living here in Mill Creek," Candy said. "And we wanted to do something here in Geneva, and at that time we were wishing Mill Creek had more commercial spots open."
Candy and Tim looked at spots in downtown Geneva in June of 2021, but ultimately did not want to compete with Kilwin's or Graham's. Not because they didn't feel their ice cream measured up (believe me, it does), but rather because they wanted to be where they and their neighbors lived.
"One night, I told my husband we should just take a drive and look at the market, and we turned the corner and saw this spot," Candy said. "We knew this was the spot (part of a former dance studio unit) and we made the phone call and here we are."
It's been a sweet choice for the family and for those who stop in for ice cream, dairy- and gluten-free fruit whips or Italian ice, as well as other treats.
"Every day, I get new families stopping in, and mostly Mill Creek," Candy noted. "But we're trying to get the word out for others to come in and try it."
So far, the favorite ice cream flavors have been Cookies 'n Cream, Cookie Dough and Cookies Galore, a combination of the two aforementioned flavors. The store is peanut-free, with only Pralines and Cream having a touch of nuts in it. And the spoon used for that flavor is not used for others.
"We do a lot of experimenting with flavors," said Ethan, who along with brothers Evan and Ian serve customers and take on other tasks. Evan does the majority of "concocting flavors" in the backroom with the ice cream maker machine, Ethan noted.
"When my friends stop by, they tell me to try a certain flavor or do this or that, and one of them suggested the combination of the Cookies 'n Cream and Cookie Dough," he added. "We experiment and try different things if we have a little left over from our batches."
Those small batches each produce about 24 quarts of ice cream, which are stored in the freezers to sell as cones or bowls, or as gallons, quarts or pints.
"We don't have to make ice cream every day, which is good, but everything is fresh in our freezer and we are always expanding inventory," Candy said.
Mostly for Candy, the shop represents continuing a family tradition, as her father operated an ice cream store when she was growing up in Yonkers, New York.
"It's what really made me want to do this," said Candy, who met her husband in St. Louis and moved to this area after he took a job with Kellogg's.
"We were making Italian ice in New York, and the Italian ice in this area was not what I grew up with," she said. "So, I use the squeeze cups like they do in New York."
Her family was concerned that no one here would know how to use the squeeze cup. "We'll have to teach them," Candy said. "Plus, there are many people around here originally from New York or New Jersey, so they know. They just say, 'I don't need a spoon.'"
After trying a few samples at Candy's Creamery, I quickly realized the Salted Caramel was my favorite.
When my son was visiting last weekend, I gave him a sample taste and he summed it up quite accurately: "Well, that could be addicting."
A customer in the store last week told Candy, "I hope you never leave here." She won't be the last to say or think that after a visit to Candy's Creamery.
More beef soon
Beef Shack continues its expansion in the region, this time opening a second Elgin location at 2300 N. Randall Road.
But what caught my attention is that Beef Shack CEO Daniel Perillo and his team are targeting an October opening for the new Beef Shack at 2015 W. Main St. in St. Charles, on the southeast corner of Main and Randall Road.
The company also plans to open five new locations in the Western Chicago suburbs in 2023.
Those who have had the cheesy beef sandwiches at Beef Shack have a general idea of why my mouth is watering just writing up this note.
The company closed its St. Charles site just east of the new planned location more than a year ago, and Chum's Shrimp Shack, another excellent fast-casual restaurant at 2115 W. Main St., took over that spot.
Keep danger off streets
A reader recently sent a note about seeing some street racing unfold in St. Charles.
For those not familiar with street racing, it's basically an illegal gathering of young people (usually) who have organized a race through social media channels or racing websites, and they use the city streets to do it.
These unsanctioned and illegal auto races have been going on for years, but it's been getting more notice of late.
After all, it's a common theme on some video games at the same time social media channels are full of street racing clubs and messaging.
News outlets in Chicago reported a few weeks ago that police were dealing with a street racing event one night right in the middle of the Loop.
We also noticed street racing was a main part of a storyline about a serious accident and injuries in an episode of the popular TV hospital drama "The Resident." That tells me it's growing in popularity out there with young people, and others are taking notice.
I wasn't able to connect with an officer at the St. Charles Police Department after leaving a couple messages, which hopefully means it's not a major problem in town.
Linda St. John, administrative assistant at Geneva Police Department, confirmed that it has not been an issue in Geneva, but it is wise for residents to be alert if they see cars racing about on city streets.
"Absolutely, people should let the police know if they see anything like this," St. John said. "As far as I know, and I hate to say it because as soon as you say something, it happens. But so far in Geneva we haven't had any of those situations."
People who drive into downtown Chicago see it on occasion, but St. John notes, "So far it is not happening out here and let's hope it stays that way."
My wife sent me a Facebook message about suggestions people were making for those who weren't sure what to do with old trophies and plaques in their home.
I thought it was an idea for an item in this column, but my wife quickly corrected that notion in saying, "No, it's for you to think about what to do with your trophies."
Ah, yes, what a nice sense of humor she has. It's one of the things I love about her. The thought of me getting rid of my trophies is worthy of a good laugh.
But wait, she was serious. I had to let her know it was a better idea to share than to actually act upon myself at this time.
I have a ton of softball trophies, having been fortunate enough to be pretty good at that game and having a bunch of friends who were even better.
Still, it's an interesting question. Can you recycle them, or should you just trash them at some point? This is a question best suited for those who want to address this while still alive and want to clear stuff out of the house. It definitely is a good one for a spouse or family member staring at a ton of trophies after someone passes away.
In the Facebook note, some suggested contacting a trophy store, as some will take old trophies and repurpose them for programs that have little funding. Boys and Girls Clubs, or special needs programs can generally use them. The Salvation Army or Goodwill also are options worth asking about.
The intention was to potentially clear out my trophies, but the idea behind repurposing them is definitely worth sharing.