On Aug. 28, 2008, 28-year-old Alyson Reidy opened the doors of the ice cream shop she had recently purchased in Stone Ridge: Cherries Ice Cream Shop & Grill. With a plethora of food service experience in her repertoire, but no prior ice cream experience, Alyson knew she had her work cut out for her. But nothing deterred her.
Months later she became pregnant with her first child. Three years later, she had her son, who is now 10. Throughout all of this, the restaurant continued to flourish, the menu continued to expand and the reviews continued to get higher and higher leading to the whopping 4.8 star Facebook review the shop currently possesses.
But how did Reidy manage to do all of this? And what has led Cherries to all the acclaim it now has?
When Reidy first reopened the ice cream shop, it had a different business model than it does now. For one, it was previously just a typical ice cream shop that also sold fries and sandwiches. Now, although the bulk of the business still comes from ice cream, it’s accompanied by an enticing and exciting menu that is ever-evolving.
“We changed the name and took it to a new level,” Reidy said. “We came in with a vengeance and really tried to go as big as we possibly could and make things kind of weird and a little funky and kind of different.”
With this, she certainly succeeded. Many of the foods satisfy cravings that seem inventive, yet still comfortable. In Reidy’s words: “creative fast food.”
“We take regular stuff and make it great,” she said. Examples of these creative dishes include buffalo chicken fries, nacho tater tots and turkey sandwiches filled with onion rings and cheese. Another fan favorite: ice cream on fries.
Another way that Reidy has changed the business drastically is in the hours. The typical season for an ice cream stand tends to be around March through October. Under Reidy’s leadership, the business only takes two months off: December and January.
In fact, just two weeks ago on Feb. 11, Cherries opened their doors for the season.
Though it may seem surprising to open such a summery sounding business in February, the business has proved to still be successful. On the first day back in business (with the usual amount of food for the first day being in stock), Cherries sold out!
The food aspect of the business allows it to be a space that is attractive for consumers for the majority of the year. If not in the mood for ice cream, townspeople might be in the mood for a burger, sandwich or soup. For some, the opening signifies the beginning of spring and warmer weather.
Reidy attributes much of the shop’s success to the quality of both the food and customer service. The ice cream is high quality, the staff members are kind and passionate and there isn’t another business within a six or seven mile radius doing anything similar to what she is doing.
Her hard work certainly plays a big factor as well. She spent the summer before opening learning all of the ins and outs of the ice cream world, as she had never worked with ice cream before.
Now her business is successful and her children, aged 10 and eight, love hanging out around the shop. Everything seems to have fallen into place perfectly.
“You just have to let a lot of things go and you just gotta do it,” Reidy said. “People say to me all the time ‘I don’t know how you do it’ but you just do it. You go to work and wake up every day and you just do it.”