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Mary Lou’s putting meals on the menu

Whether it’s a celebratory scoop following a win at softball or a sweet end to a day at the lake, ice cream is the dessert of summer. So Mary Lou’s Homemade Ice Cream and More on Evergreen is open again with treats to top off some fun in the sun.

The Spokane Valley institution of homemade, hard ice cream is known for its friendly service, quaint decor and delectable desserts. And this summer owners Ed and Kris Ritchie plan to bring over the menu from the Milk Bottle, which they own in the Garland District on the North Side.

Soon customers can order fare for a full meal with burgers, fries, wraps and sandwiches. “Simple, all-American dinner stuff,” said Kris Ritchie, explaining they’ll cook out of a trailer and if business is good they’ll put in a hood, pave the field for parking and stay open year round. Her goal is to be open 10 to 10. “If the rest of it takes off I’d do breakfast.”

Of course, they’ll continue to sell cones and shakes from the ice cream made in their antique, electric churner.

On a recent warm summer afternoon Ritchie stirred homemade cookie dough mix into a batch of freshly churned cream. It’s one of their best selling flavors, though she said nothing outsells huckleberry. “When we go to Pig Out in the Park, we make two thirds huckleberry and one third is six other flavors,” Ritchie said, noting they offer about 24 flavors at the shop, with several flavors decided by what fruit is in season. “It depends on what’s ripe.”

Ritchie’s favorite is maple nut. She laughed. “The owner of Baskin-Robbins used to get her maple nut fix here.”

This week at Mary Lou’s you can buy Bing cherry, among many other flavors, while later this season peach ice cream will be popular. The ingredients come from other local businesses, fruit from Walters’ Fruit Ranch, huckleberries from Mount Spokane and Priest Lake, and cream from Inland Northwest Dairies.

“Everything is made from scratch, even the waffle cone mix. It tastes like fortune cookies,” said Ritchie, adding that their hard ice cream needs sturdy cones.

The Ritchies bought Mary Lou’s Homemade Ice Cream in 1991, continuing the reputation for great ice cream of original owners Mary and Lou Sjostrom who opened the ice cream parlor in 1978. It still has some of the original chairs made by Lou. Ritchie says they’ve always seen the potential of the business and are grateful to Valley residents for their strong support.

“It’s still a beautiful little business. … The best thing is when little kids come in with their coins. They’ve worked so hard,” said Ritchie with a smile. “Everybody is pretty happy and if they’re not, you can make them happier.”

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