WEST PITTSTON — A small business is about to get bigger.
The Ballyhoo — Purveyors of Fine Ice Cream shop is undergoing an expansion that will give the small ice cream shop a more restaurant-like feel.
The husband and wife duo of Robert, 43, and Valerie Schultz, 37, have owned the business for three years, while Robert has owned the building that houses the ice cream shop for over 10 years.
He said the building remained mostly empty and was used for rental space until they decided to open Ballyhoo, which gives of an early 1900s vibe due to its old wooden booths, the cash register from 1906, classical music and the white hats and aprons the employees wear.
“We’re really into history,” said Robert. “We like antiques and the way things used to be and there’s nothing like that around. We’ve traveled around to other ice cream shops and there are others in the country that are really old ones and we like that. Plus, the building was once a drug store on the other side that helps give it that feel because it was around in 1890.”
Some of the hard ice cream flavors include the typical chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, but also out of the ordinary flavors such as cinnamon raisin bun and salted caramel truffle.
As sweet as the candies are — those offered include Tootsie Rolls, Warheads and Swedish Fish — Valerie said the candy is the hard part of the business.
“Unfortunately a lot of candy companies are buying each other out and discontinuing or changing their candy,” said Valerie. “We’re trying to keep as much of the old stuff as we can while they still make it.”
A wall currently separates the operational side of the business from the soon-to-be new addition. Valerie said when the other side of the building is fixed up there will be a doorway that leads to both sides, making it one big shop.
She said the idea to make the store bigger was something that needed to happen.
“We had the building, so we had always intended on starting over there,” Valerie said. “After the flood (of 2011) we decided it would be easier to start in the smaller section and then expand as we go along. Really, it was our intention to have the whole building.”
The couple said the building had a few feet of water and mud in it after the flood, but there wasn’t much damage to the building.
Robert pointed out that starting in the smaller section of the building helped him and his wife learn the business as they went along, and now the transition of operating a bigger shop will be much easier.
Valerie said the new addition will feature a more restaurant-like, wait-to-be-seated ice cream parlor and will have booths that will fit up to 20 people in the room as well as bar that will fit up to 12 people.
“We have a lot of requests for kids to have parties, showers and things like that so we’ll really need the room for people who come after sporting events and things like that.” she said. “They want to come here with the whole team and we needed a little more seats for that. There’s a lot of interest in holding events here.”
Robert said he has been doing all of the carpentry work himself on getting the new addition ready, which helps save money.
He said he typically spends four hours every day working on the new addition before heading next door to the shop and working from open until close of business.
Valerie said they currently have four employees, but they will be looking to hire a waitress staff.
The new shop addition is on pace to open around Halloween this year.
“The reason we’re doing this too, is because of location,” said Robert. “We’re not in a mall somewhere where people are constantly passing by. This is a destination place, and we’re trying to create a destination place. We actually have people crossing the bridge from Pittston to come over here, which is unheard of because people never come over from there.”
“We’re bridging the two towns,” added Valerie.