PALMER — A family owned and operated ice cream parlor opened to the public May 28 in downtown Palmer, quickly garnering public interest and social media praise while serving scoops almost faster than they can make.
Big Dipper Homemade Ice Cream owners Robert and Lisa Brown were pleasantly surprised by their immediate popularity, selling out of their initial inventory on the first day.
“We knew it was gonna be a lot of work. It’s really rewarding,” Robert said. “People just wanted anything.”
Lisa said their opening weekend was incredibly busy but equally exciting.
“It’s so much fun. I feel like I’m not even working,” Lisa said
The ice cream coveting couple have been talking about opening up their first brick and mortar together for several years, finally deciding to take the leap and go full force with the business in the fall of 2020.
“We both love ice cream,” Robert said with a laugh.
Robert recalled the fateful birthday party that got them both thinking about turning ice cream into a small business venture. He said Lisa traditionally makes him German chocolate cake for his birthday, but decided to mix it up one year and made him German chocolate ice cream instead. He said it was too good to ignore.
“I said, ‘man that is fantastic. We should do a business,’” Robert said.
Robert said it’s the perfect fit for both of them, combining his entrepreneurial drive and business acumen with her potent people skills and creative culinary craftsmanship for a fun, family friendly atmosphere. He said they’ve been raising their children in the Valley since 2004 and intend to grow with the community.
“We just wanted to have a really fun place for families to come out,” Robert said.
Two of Lisa and Robert’s sons are helping them around the ice cream parlor. Lisa said they hired a solid crew of teens that are doing a great job right out the gate, keeping up the constant flow of customers.
Robert said there’s numerous teens working there as their first job, and they still have a large stack of resumes to draw from as they continue to add more members to the ice cream team, which is fortunate in light of other establishments across the Valley struggling to find employees.
“We haven’t had any problem finding people to work,” Robert said.
Big Dipper Homemade Ice Cream is located within the same plaza as Pizza Delphi, near the Three Bears and Fred Meyer gas stations. Robert said they found an ideal location at a busy intersection with nearby stops around them.
“It’s really accessible for the locals but also very accessible for any of the people from Anchorage or out of state tourists traveling up the Glenn Highway,” Robert said.
Robert said they’ve been overwhelmed by positive feedback from the public and the encouragement from the Palmer’s established business owners.
“It’s been fantastic… People are really excited there’s an ice cream shop in town. People have been saying that we needed one for a long time,” Robert said. “I really like the fact that Palmer embraces small business. I really feel that they go out of their way. We’ve got so many people from the local area that we don’t know that are just congratulating us for starting this and just happy for us… To me, a homemade ice cream shop seems to fit really well with a small town feel, which Palmer has. I think it works hand in hand.”
All of the Big Dipper Homemade Ice Cream flavors and waffle cones are made from scratch on site while utilizing a wide range of treats like Reese’s and Oreos as mixing ingredients and toppings.
Lisa said they hope to add an espresso bar and other features in the future. She said they’re currently establishing local connections with companies like Alaska Wild Harvest who provide several ingredients for flavors like their coffee toffee ice cream. She said that one of her favorite things about running their own ice cream business is coming up with menu items through constant experimentation.
“There’s just lots of possibilities,” Lisa said. “There’s no limit to ice cream flavors… It’s super creative back here when you’re making ice cream.”
For more information about Big Dipper Homemade Ice Cream, call 907-745-6233 or visit their official Facebook page at facebook.com/ilovebigdipper.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org