ANDERSONVILLE — A locally owned ice cream shop is coming to Andersonville, filling a need in the neighborhood following the closure of its longtime dessert parlor.
Ice cream and chocolate business Kilwins will open late summer or early fall at 5224 N. Clark St., franchise owner Jackie Jackson said. It is opening in the former home of Transistor Chicago, the retail shop that closed last year after 12 years in business.
Kilwins is coming to the neighborhood following the closure of George’s Ice Cream & Sweets. That ice cream parlor is closing Thursday following 13 years on Clark Street as its owners are set to retire.
Jackson — who owns Kilwins locations in her native Hyde Park, Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue — decided to look into opening in Andersonville after it was named the second-coolest neighborhood in the world.
But when Jackson visited Andersonville, she ran into George’s, a beloved ice cream shop owned by a family with long ties to the neighborhood. Jackson liked George’s product and decided the neighborhood wasn’t big enough for two ice cream shops.
But after that visit, Jackson heard from the George’s staff that the business would soon close.
“We wouldn’t want to compete with a place that’s been there for 13 years,” Jackson said. “The next day, I heard it was closing. I was sad to hear that. But we decided, ‘This is the time to move forward.'”
Jackson has been in contact with George’s owners and staff and has offered its employees work at Kilwins. The store will employ about 16 people.
“We want this to be totally community-focused,” she said. “We offered them work at Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue [Kilwins locations], so they have experience when we’re ready to open.”
In expanding to Andersonville, Jackson said her team looked at the George’s space but found it too big. They settled on the former Transistor’s space a few blocks south, though the spot needs upgrades.
On top of bringing in food preparation equipment, Jackson is planning an overhaul of the building’s plumbing and heating and cooling systems. She has applied for a Chicago Recovery Grant to help the buildout, which could cost upwards of $700,000.
Jackson hopes to have the store open by September, she said.
“They are going to be some obstacles, but we’re getting the ball rolling,” she said.
Kilwins is a Michigan-based ice cream franchise that opened its first spot in 1947 and now with locations throughout the United States. It is known for its ice cream, as well as its fudge, chocolates and other sweets, which are handmade in stores.
After opening a shop in Old Town in 2013, Jackson convinced Kilwins to allow her to open in her neighborhood of Hyde Park. The company prefers locations in tourist destinations, and Jackson fought hard to get it to sign off on a South Side location, she said. She later opened locations in Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue and now owns the Kilwins in suburban Geneva.
Jackson’s Hyde Park location closed in the fall after its windows were shot out during a violent period in the area. The location is being remodeled and Jackson has plans to open in May, she said.
In Andersonville, Jackson said she sees similarities to Hyde Park: Both areas have proud residents who go out of their way to shop local.
“We have found that communities that are quaint really support local business,” she said. “Hyde Park has been so supportive of us. We feel we’ll get the same support from Andersonville.”
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