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Wednesday, May 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Two new ice cream shops share same CdA block

Both get the question.

You know there’s another ice cream shop two doors down?

They opened within a week of each other on North Fourth Street in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Of course they know.

That is, they know now. It was a surprise to both parties in the spring when it happened. But nearly five months later, they’ve gotten used to the idea.

Two ice cream shops. On the same block.

Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream opened April 1. Sweet Peaks Ice Cream opened April 8. There’s a bar between them. But the owners of each say that’s not all that separates them.

Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream

No nuts here. Abi’s allergic.

She’s 8. And “she thinks it’s pretty cool” her mom named an ice cream shop for her, said proprietor Maren Scoggins.

Technically, “We are a specialty kitchen,” she said. “We are not a traditional scoop shop because we make everything here. The idea is there are no artificial flavors or preservatives. No stabilizers. We make our own ice cream every day.”

The malted vanilla with toffee and chocolate chips is “the No. 1 best-seller.” Scoggins makes the toffee herself. She also makes cookie dough for her cookie dough ice cream as well as caramel for her salted caramel, jam for her huckleberry and lemon curd for her Lemon Twist. Even the crisp waffle cones and cups, which include a whisper of cinnamon, are made in house.

The kitchen is open, so customers can watch ice cream being made right in front of them. On a recent afternoon, Scoggins, 45, assembled ice cream sandwiches and prepared a batch of avocado-jalapeño sorbet, a special order for the Floating Green Restaurant at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Its ingredients were simple and few: jalapeño-infused simple syrup, lime juice and avocado.

“My style of cooking is very deconstructed and clean. The least amount of ingredients, the better,” Scoggins said.

She moved to Coeur d’Alene a year ago from Nashville for her husband’s job. Robert Scoggins is a pulmonary and critical care physician at North Idaho Lung, Asthma and Critical Care in Coeur d’Alene.

Originally from Indiana, Scoggins previously worked in health care consulting, doing market research and strategy. She said she loves to cook and wanted a career change. “Ice cream makes people happy, which is why I do this.”

Her daughter Abi, short for Abigail, is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts, so the facility is legume- and nut-free. “If you’re looking for peanut butter or pistachio, we don’t have it,” Scoggins said.

But, Abi’s does have Maker’s Mark in the brown sugar bourbon ice cream. And there’s Bailey’s in the Irish cream ice cream. Coffee toffee features chips of scratch-made toffee as well as coffee from Thomas Hammer. Look, also, for flavors such as honey lavender, chipotle chocolate and caramel black tea.

Take-home pints are $10. All are made in small batches. The ice cream contains eggs and is made from a classic base using milk and cream from Darigold.

There are vegan options, too. Sorbets – egg-less, dairy-free – include flavors such as lemon, watermelon and chocolate orange, which “is so creamy people don’t believe it’s non-dairy,” Scoggins said.

In fall and winter, Scoggins – who has 10 employees – plans to add more pastries and gourmet hot chocolate to the menu, which is rounded out by shakes and blended drinks. She’s also considering adding beer floats, using a local stout and her ice cream, as well as hosting ice cream-making classes.

When she learned Sweet Peaks was opening one door down, “It was a big surprise. I was, like, what?”

But, Scoggins said, “I don’t have any ill will toward them at all. We’re all here to make this a better downtown.”

And, “The more businesses that we have that people want to go to, the better it is for all the businesses.”

Sweet Peaks Ice Cream

Sprinkles are free at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, which charges 75 cents for other toppings, including peanuts and cashews.

This scoop shop isn’t nut-free. But it’s dog-friendly. Pick up chicken or beef dog ice cream in a to-go cup or a lactose-free, bone-shaped dog-cicle. People can eat them, too. The canine ice pops are made from broth, while the ice cream contains peanut butter, broth and a classic ice cream base.

“It reminds me of non-spicy peanut sauce,” said Marissa Keenan, 32, who owns Sweet Peaks with her husband, Sam Dauenhauer, 34.

Their Coeur d’Alene store is the newest Sweet Peaks location and the first in the regional chain to be located outside of Montana. Founded in Whitefish in 2010, Sweet Peaks has five stores. Each usually features nine signature flavors, plus another six to eight rotating varieties.

Classics are chocolate, vanilla, grasshopper mint, huckleberry, salty caramel, honey cinnamon, cupcake, espresso and coconut. Seasonal flavors include orange cardamom, brown butter peach, chocolate-covered potato chip, peanut butter bacon, Bear Scat with chocolate-covered blueberries and Montana Christmas with Douglas fir tip-infused cream and a huckleberry swirl.

Most don’t include artificial flavor or color. “We really try to avoid that stuff as much as possible,” said Keenan, a mother of three children, ages 11, 3 and 1½. “I always think ‘would I feed that to my kids?’ We took the green out of our mint. Our sprinkles are naturally colored as well.” The only exception, she said, might be a special flavor.

Sweet Peaks also opts for natural stabilizers: guar gum in the ice cream and tapioca starch in the egg-free, non-dairy sorbet. The ice cream contains eggs and is made from a base using milk and cream from Montana dairies.

The honey for honey cinnamon comes from Wustner Brothers Honey in Missoula. The espresso features espresso from DOMA Coffee Roasting Co. in Post Falls. The vanilla comes from Madagascar, but is imported by a Lafaza, a company started by a Montanan and returned Peace Corps volunteer.

Choose between sugar, cake or waffle cones – or a paper cup. Rounding out the menu are sundaes and floats. In winter, consider “frozen hot chocolate,” or cocoa with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.

Take-home pints are $8. All are made in small batches in a production facility in Whitefish. Each of the three machines makes 5 gallons at a time. “We’re a family operation, not some manufacturing plant,” said Keenan, whose parents have owned the Bigfork Inn since 1982.

“I grew up in the environment of food and customer service and people,” she said.

Today, Sweet Peaks employs 85 people. Other locations are in Kalispell, Bigfork and Missoula. The CdA location has 12 workers.

Opening a scoop shop near another ice cream store was “completely coincidental,” Keenan said. “We love it there.”

But, said 18-year-old scooper Timber Lockhart, a 2016 graduate for Coeur d’Alene High School, “People will try to make it seem like a rivalry. They’ll be like, ‘Do you know there’s an ice cream shop one door down?’ Yeah, I walked down Fourth Street to get to work. One of my best friends works there.”

Lockhart has worked at the CdA Sweet Peaks since “not even two weeks after they opened.” She said grasshopper mint is a top-seller along with huckleberry and salty caramel. Call it salted caramel, and she’ll correct you. Salted caramel is what they serve down the street.

“We’re both local businesses. We’re both passionate about the same product. We don’t have anything bad to say about them,” Lockhart said. And, in the end, “There’s no such thing as too much ice cream.”

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