By Donnell Suggs
The crowd outside of Sweet Dreams ice cream shop was growing by the minute. At least three dozen family and friends of owners Cyntauria Jones and Len Davidson were making their way to the Chapel Hill Commons shopping center by carload to support the grand opening of this Black-owned business. When they and their children made their way outside the shop to greet those assembled it was overwhelming, according to Jones.
“Everybody showed up and showed out, it was wonderful,” she said.
The idea for a rolled ice cream shop, something not available anywhere else in the area, came to her and Davidson’s minds during a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There, they had enjoyed some rolled ice cream — which is different from traditional ice cream shop offerings because the rolled ice cream is made fresh per order — and decided this could be something they could enjoy back home. The pair have two children together, twin boys Kaylen and Karter, and had been high school sweethearts.
Starting a business together was a no-brainer, and opening an ice-cream shop seemed like a good idea. Finding a good place to open the business where they could serve the community in which they were raised proved to be a bit more difficult.
“We wanted to put this business in our community,” said Jones, who, along with Davidson, attended Southwest DeKalb High School.
The shopping center, which is anchored by a Kroger supermarket, is in a central location. To get the leasing agent to agree to rent a space to an ice cream shop while not upsetting the grocery store just a couple dozen feet away would be an issue.
After discussions, Davidson and Jones decided it was worth a try despite representatives from Kroger not being happy with any competition in the shopping center. There’s also a Bruster’s ice cream shop across the street. No matter, says Jones.
“We are the very first rolled ice cream shop in Decatur,” she said proudly. On Bruster’s being across the street: “We are so much different than them. We customize our customer’s ice cream.”
More Than Just an Ice Cream Shop
The business, along with providing rolled ice cream to customers, will provide jobs to the area youth. Giving back was a key reason Davidson and Jones wanted to start a business where they grew up. Jones remembers how hard it was to get a job as a teenager without working experience. She wants to do something about it.
“We want to introduce something new to this community while being able to employ teenagers and give them work experience,” she said. There are plans to also help employees with college applications.
The business has eight part-time employees and two full-time managers, and will look to hire some more during the summer, according to Jones.
Sweet Dreams is open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and till 8pm on Sundays to better accommodate the amount of traffic the shopping center has on late nights.
The temperatures over the weekend, particularly during Saturday’s grand opening, had been cold, but that didn’t stop Sweet Dreams from making its debut. Asked if she expects to continue seeing crowds like the one they saw Saturday Jones said she did.
“I’m sure we’ll be busy,” she said. “We bought something new to the community, and I believe they will support us.”
Sweet Dreams is located at 1078 Flat Shoals Parkway.
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