ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan staple is expanding further south. The owners behind Ludington’s famous House of Flavors are opening a second ice cream parlor in Zeeland this summer and are planning to open a third location in West Michigan next spring.
Barry Neal, the owner of House of Flavors, said the expansion plans have been in the works for nearly a decade. Unlike the Ludington shop, the Zeeland location will only be an ice cream parlor, not a full-scale restaurant.
“I didn’t want to do another restaurant because of the requirements of how many people you need to get that done,” Neal told News 8. “We ideally would have about 90 team members in Ludington to get through summer. For the past couple of years, we’ve kind of tapped out at 75 or so. They’re great people. We have a really good team. No criticisms there at all, but I knew that I didn’t want to come into another market and need that many people.”
The new parlor is expected to employ 15 to 20 people. Neal knows what qualities he’s looking for in his staff.
“The joy factor is really important. We love what we do and we want to find team members that love what they do and build relationships with customers,” Neal said. “Not just sell them an ice cream cone, but actually help to have their day be better. To find people that care enough about other people and find joy in serving others.”
Neal says design planning for the new location started last November and construction started in January. No grand opening date has been set yet. Neal hopes to open before the end of June.
The new ice cream parlor will move in to 405 Centerstone Court just south of Chicago Drive. He believes there are several perks to the location.
“My wife, Cindy, and I raised our family about a mile from this location. And to cross Chicago Drive with young children to go into Zeeland to find ice cream or other treats. It was always a little life-threatening,” Neal said with a laugh. “So, I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm about not having to cross Chicago Drive to get ice cream.”
The new business is also next door to JQ99. Neal, who worked as the promotions director at the radio station in the past, plans to partner with the station on a project called Joy Park.
“We’re going to build a stage sort of overlooking a water feature area. And we’ll be able to have artists and worship leaders and other musicians on our property, on our stage to add another reason to be happy in your day,” Neal said.
House of Flavors has been selling ice cream for more than 70 years. It started as a full dairy operation, producing milk, buttermilk and cottage cheese alongside ice cream. In the 1950s, the operation shifted its focus solely to ice cream. The company now produces roughly 25 million gallons of ice cream each year, making it the largest manufacturer in Michigan.
As for a third location, Neal wanted to keep his cards close to his vest. He confirmed a third House of Flavors location is in the works for West Michigan. He wouldn’t say where but told News 8 that he is looking at a building currently under construction. The goal is to open the third location next spring.