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Amid early snows, Furniture City Creamery owner dreams up ice cream recipes for new East Hills shop

The frigid winds and blowing snow of a multi-state blizzard have not cooled Rachel Franko's enthusiasm for whipping up new recipes for her handmade ice creams, cones, and toppings known as Furniture City Creamery.

Franko and her husband, Matt, have nearly completed the paperwork to purchase 958 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids, a tiny 500-square-foot building in the popular East Hills business district. If all the ingredients fall into place, the new creamery will open in May 2014.

Rachel Franko, who has a degree in process development and worked the last 12 years developing industrial processes and products, says she loves the hands-on aspect of "doing mixing day-in and day-out." After starting her own consulting firm, she found that she was doing more talking about mixing than actually mixing. And that's when the idea of making her own ice creams came like a "little parachute from the universe."

"I saw the popularity of these types of ice cream shops on the West Coast and I thought, that is perfect," she says. "We sold our ice creams out of the Mitten Brewing Company last summer and used their commercial kitchen, knowing that, ultimately, we'd want our own spot."

Franko plans to have the creamery kitchen front and center in the shop, with bars and barstools along the walls and front window. A small covered patio space off the back, accessible from the building and from a pedestrian alley along the building's east side, will have additional seating.

Besides making all the ice creams from scratch using locally sourced ingredients, Franko makes vegan ice creams, all of her own toppings including the chocolate chips, and her own cones. Except for the dairy-based ice creams, all other items are vegan-friendly.

Plans for the new store include offering site-baked goods and baked goods from other small local bakers. The store will be open year-round, says Franko, who plans to supplement slower ice cream sales in the winter with coffees, hot chocolate, and fresh pies.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy of Furniture City Creamery
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