Chow Bella

Someone Took a Frozen Dump (Sorry) on Mill Avenue, and It's Chilling

If you've felt an icy wind coming from Tempe's Mill Avenue lately, it's not from the glare of that coed you just totally checked out (c'mon, man, look at her face) -- it's ice cream. More specifically, ice cream shops. And lots of 'em -- everywhere.

Look to the left: ice cream shop. Look to the right: ice cream shop. Behind you: ice cream shop. Excuse-me-but-you're-standing-on-my...: ice cream shop.

In just the past few years, the amount of ice cream and ice cream-like shops gathering on Mill has been no less than chilling. At my last count, there were: Slickables, Mojo Yogurt, Cookiez on Mill, Red Mango, Paleta's Betty, Yogurtini, Sparky's Old Town Creamery, Cold Stone Creamery, and the recently announced Rita's Italian Ice.

So what the frozen hell's happening here?

Sure, I could lament the fact that ice cream shops have taken the place of Mill Avenue's long forgotten rock clubs or that they're just one more example of how lame this college town's main drag is, but those ships have looong sailed and we've already come up with a wish list of businesses we wish would move there anyway.

Instead, based on conversations I've had with a few restaurant owners, I can tell you although many would love a Mill Avenue address, most can't pay what its landlords are asking for in rent. Which may be why small, single-focused, low entry-cost eateries (e.g., ice cream shops) are so prevalent. That, or perhaps the frozen treat-eries are actually all individual parts of a massive, Voltron-like ice cream robot that will one day rule us all in mint chocolate chip awesomeness. (Hey, one can dream.)

At any rate, as happy as ice cream makes us, it's probably safe to say that the amount of shops offering it on Mill has reached its saturation point and won't be able to sustain itself at the current pace. Which ones will triumph? Which ones will fail? As with anything, time will tell. But for now, folks looking for a cool treat on Mill Avenue should choose their favorite wisely -- and often.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld