One of Wes Bechtel’s fondest memories from childhood is the familiar thud of the screen door slamming shut whenever he walked into the beloved ice cream parlor in his Pennsylvania hometown.
It was there his passion of the time-honored dessert–and all food, really–was first born, a passion furthered and fostered by an obsession with cooking shows in college and, later, by his own hands.
Now, the 35-year-old and his wife, Kristen, have embarked on an opportunity to carry on a local tradition while adding their own unique flavor to the mix. The Bechtels are the new owners of Boombalatti’s, 1127 Military Cutoff Road #B, a well founded and much loved local ice cream shop in The Forum.
For years, the couple had contemplated and dreamed about owning their own store and it was while Googling the competition, Wes stumbled upon the virtual for sale sign on Boombalatti’s. They began the process of purchasing the business in January and just last week, they took over the scoops from the previous owners.
Stepping behind the counter of an established shop certainly has its advantages–a loyal customer base, tried-and-true flavors and a well-known name. But doing it right at the start of summer has been gloriously hectic for the new entrepreneurs. Wes spent the last decade in the corporate world at Verizon Wireless and Kristen was a paralegal.
“We are jumping in with both feet,” Kristen, 35, said. “It has been more like a learning peak than a learning curve.”
With the typical draw of visitors to the beach this time of year–plus the influx of the Bechtel’s friends and family and those abuzz with the news of new ownership–Kristen said business has been, well, booming.
“Which, if that is the worst problem we have, then I’m okay,” she said, laughing.
Though they’ll keep all of Boombalatti’s handmade creations, the Bechtels plan to incorporate some of their own, as well. Wes has already been busy in the kitchen, churning out four creative new flavors–creamsicle, strawberry shortcake, peanut butter banana and a fresh watermelon sorbet invented by the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Airlie.
“We’ll get more inventive in fall and winter when things slow down a little bit,” Wes noted.
He also hopes to partner with area businesses to incorporate their ingredients into his original batches, in an effort to be as locally sourced as possible.
More than anything, the Bechtels, thrilled with living their dream, can’t wait to get to know their customers, to provide an embracing spot for families and, hopefully, be a home for fond childhood memories.
“We want Boombalatti’s to be a really fun place to come,” Wes said. “It’s an ice cream shop. An ice cream shop should be fun.”
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.