LOGAN SQUARE — The neighborhood’s only gelato shop has permanently closed after more than a decade in the area.
Heavenly Gelato and Ice Cream Cafe, 2662 N. Sawyer Ave., closed up shop just before Halloween and neighborhood restaurant/bar owner Esam Hani will take over the space, he confirmed.
Hani said he plans to make the former gelato shop an event space connected to The Old Plank, his most recent restaurant next door that opened in May.
Since the restaurant’s opening, Hani said he has hosted birthdays, fundraisers and private events that bring in over 100 people, making the space tight.
“I want to open up the space,” Hani said. “Maybe I’ll put some entertainment like foosball, darts, I don’t know yet.”
He wants the space to be able to handle big events but is still figuring out the rest of the details, he said. But he knows what he doesn’t want.
“I don’t want more tables and more chairs, I have enough,” he said. “[I want it to be] something that people can socialize in and use.”
The owners of Heavenly could not be reached for comment.
The family-owned shop, open since 2008, was popular for its vegan ice cream and cheap deals on good-quality gelato.
“The ice cream was really good but they were never open,” said Elizabeth Foley, the receptionist at neighboring business Penny Lane Studios.
According to Foley, the owners moved everything out the last week of October.
Heavenly’s hours were a mystery to many in the community in recent years. Although its website said it was open from 2-10 p.m., neighbors and employees at Penny Lane rarely saw it open. Reviewers on Yelp and Google complained about the hours but praised the gelato.
“Delicious ice cream! Just wish they held normal hours,” wrote a local guide on Google.
“This place is awesome. The service is wonderful, everyone is so nice. Please visit here so that they don’t go the route of so many Logan Square businesses — they are a treasure,” wrote another on Yelp.
The original owner of Heavenly died last year and his son and daughter took it over, neighbors said.
Hani, who owns seven restaurants in the area, said business slowed after the death of the father, who he remembers fondly.
Alex Chwalik lived a block away from Heavenly and remembers frequenting the shop often while she lived in the neighborhood from 2013 to 2017. She said she would stop in after a long day of waitressing nearby and went on many first dates there, adding that the family-owned vibe made her feel comfortable and at home.
“It was a place that always felt like home to me,” Chwalik said. “I am sad to see it go but I guess I’m not surprised.”
She said she has good memories of the owner, an older man who was a military veteran, she said. Seeing a veteran give back to his community after being in the military was special, she said.
“He had so many great years [in Logan Square] and I know how much it meant to him to serve his community,” she said.
The Heavenly space would be Hani’s eighth property, further adding to his Milwaukee empire under his company One of a Kind Hospitality, which owns The Old Plank, Saba, Café Con Leche, De Noche Mexicana, Harding Tavern, Red Star Liquor and the Walk-In.
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