Pictured (L to R) in the downtown Warsaw location Friday are Kelsie Thompson Avants and Patti, Laine and Jim Thompson, owners of Kelainey’s Ice Cream Shop. Photo provided.
Pictured (L to R) in the downtown Warsaw location Friday are Kelsie Thompson Avants and Patti, Laine and Jim Thompson, owners of Kelainey’s Ice Cream Shop. Photo provided.
Kelainey’s Ice Cream Shop is closing its downtown Warsaw location, though owners Jim and Patti Thompson want customers to know they’ll still be selling scoops and sandwiches not too far away.
Sunday is the last day for the location at 105 E. Center St., but at the same time, the couple is making a stronger commitment to their Winona Lake shop at 904 Park Ave.
“We’ll be there for the next five years, at least,” said Jim Thompson, noting they’re getting ready to sign a longer lease. Closing one of their shops wasn’t an easy choice, he also noted, but they decided it was necessary to focus on the other.
“We’ve done this for 10 years, it’s time for us to take a step back,” he said. “We’re doing very well, that’s what makes this so hard – it would be easier if we were having trouble with sales.”
But splitting their time and energy between two successful locations was stretching them thin, so they had to weigh the shops against each other.
“We thought we had a buyer but it fell through, so we opened again. We’ve thought about it for four years, debated it back and forth; we’re not as young as we used to be,” he said. “The reason it took four years was because ... there are things we liked about both.”
They opened the Warsaw location in 2001, with equipment bought from another ice cream store that was closing, and the Winona Lake shop in 2004. The ice cream shop was an alternative to Jim taking a promotion at his full-time job, in produce at Owen’s Supermarket, which would have taken him out of town more often.
“I didn’t want to travel and miss my kids growing up,” he said.
Daughters Kelsie and Laine – Kelainey’s namesakes – grew up in the shop, and came back for the downtown spot’s final weekend.
“It’s pretty tough, emotionally, for all concerned,” Jim said. “A lot of people in Warsaw are pretty sad about us leaving. It hurts us but it’s a life decision – we have to get calmed down. It’s just been run and run and run.”
Even running it as a seasonal shop hasn’t given them as much free time as they’d like, said Jim, who still works full time at the grocery store. Between the other job, paperwork to catch up on and the time it takes to wind the store down and start it back up every year, they don’t exactly have the leisure time to winter in Florida.
“It’s a short off-season for us. We would like to get away for some time – maybe now we can get a week in Florida,” he said.
The Winona Lake shop, whose menu mirrors the downtown, is open through October, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The Thompsons will hold on to the downtown location through September, and Jim is hopeful they can still find a buyer to keep it running.
“There’s still the possibility for someone to come in and take it over. That’s what we’d really like,” he said.