Sentimentalists and fans of really great ice cream are about to receive an impossibly happy holiday gift: Mary Coyle Ol’ Fashion Ice Cream is almost ready to reopen. The venerable 64-year-old Phoenix favorite shut down last year in October, not long after local businessman Mike Stoffey purchased the ice cream shop with plans to bring it back to life.
After closing the Seventh Avenue location, Stoffey tried to launch a Coyle ice cream truck earlier this year. But when the Kickstarter campaign failed to fund, he took it as a sign that compromise wasn’t what locals wanted. What Phoenix wanted, Stoffey decided, is something more “Ol’ Fashion.” And now he's about to oblige, putting the finishing touches on the new Mary Coyle at Seventh Street near Bethany Home Road.
“I keep pushing the opening back,” he admits. “But there’s not much left to do. It looks like we’ll be open before the end of the year.”
The new parlor, which has a smaller footprint than the former location, will be using the same ice cream recipes that Mary herself made famous, Stoffey promises. And everything will be made on site.
"We’re not trying to be a restaurant this time," he adds. "We’re expecting more of a grab-and-go kind of crowd. We’ll have some counter seating, and the way that Seventh Street has come to life, I’m expecting a lot of foot traffic.”
Mary, an Akron, Ohio native, opened her ice cream parlor in 1951. Her son Larry Coyle relocated the business from its original spot at 15th Avenue and Thomas to a building he purchased on Seventh Avenue in 1996 after his landlord failed to renew the shop’s original lease. When Larry died four years later, his daughter sold the property and became a tenant in her father’s former building.
“After that,” Stoffey says, “the company began to struggle. The space was too big, and the rent was too high. You have to sell a lot of ice cream to pay for more than 3,000 square feet.” Stoffey bought the Coyle shop four years ago. By then the once-small ice cream parlor had expanded, with outlets near Christown and on East Indian School, and added a full-on dinner menu to the mix. The company was overextended.
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Once he throws open the doors, Stoffey will have to compete with newly popular local creameries Churn and Sweet Republic. But he’s not worried. People have a relationship with the name Mary Coyle, he says. That ought to give his reboot an edge. Stoffey’s career in business investing won’t hurt, either.
"I’m doing my best to return Mary Coyle to that ’60s and ’70s feel I remember from when I was a kid eating ice cream there," he says. "We’re using the same color scheme, the same booths, the same great ice cream. Really, the only difference is we moved a little bit across town."
For more information, keep an eye on the Mary Coyle Ol' Fashion Ice Cream Facebook.