Grassroots Ice Cream has successfully run an ice cream shop in the center of Granby since 2013. Perhaps you have noticed lately the considerable construction activity happening in and around the building. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Eliza Florian, who is co-owner of Grassroots Ice Cream to talk about the changes.
Florian, together with her husband Lee Florian, bought the building in April 2017, and they began planning the expansion. They hired Dante Boffi, a local architect, to draw up the plans. Boffi’s plan includes dormers on the front that make the existing upstairs space usable and an addition that has a silo-like structure as a key design element. The finished structure will be nearly double in size at 4,500 square feet. The silo is a nod to Granby’s agricultural roots. While the silo is clearly visible from the exterior, inside it simply appears as a rounded outcropping of the dining room. When complete, the facility will house the ice cream shop with increased seating from 10 to 50 seats, the creamery, event/party space, a spacious office for Florian and a new restaurant—more about that in a future Drummer after the restaurant opens. The opening is targeted for July or August.
Currently, the Creamery, where Grassroots makes all its own ice cream, is housed in the building’s basement. When the renovation is complete, the Creamery will be on the first floor. Employees will be ecstatic when they no longer have to lug 50-pound containers up the basement stairs.
Grassroots’ ice cream is made with local dairy products, no artificial colors and all natural flavors. The store’s website lists 168 different flavors of ice cream. At any point in time, the shop serves 36 different flavors, and the selection is constantly changing. It offers perennial favorites like strawberry or cookie dough to more exotic flavors like bergamot, goat cheese and sweet plum or salted caramel bacon brittle. The list is creative, expansive, intriguing and mouth-watering.
Lee and Eliza Florian have four children. Their youngest, Josh, died 10 years ago at the age of two from adrenal lucodystrophy (ALD). Had he been screened at birth, the ALD could have been treated. After Josh died, the Florians joined with other ALD families and pushed for legislation requiring screening of all newborns. The grassroots effort took four years, and in 2013, Governor Malloy signed a law mandating the screening that could have saved their son’s life. On the day the law was signed, Grassroots Ice Cream opened for business. Florian then poured her energy into being an entrepreneur.
How did Florian come by her business acumen? She believes an entrepreneurial spirit is a natural part of who she is. For her ice cream expertise, she had a crash course by studying a $700 technical text book on dairy science. Her college degree from Brigham Young University is in social work. Florian half-jests that being an ice cream shop owner is the best social work she has ever done. In this work, she connects people, creates community and is always looking to help people be happy. She adds, “Rarely do I see people leave unhappy!”
Grassroots is located at 4 Park Place on the Town Green. The website is grassrootsicecream.com (check out the 168 flavors!). Better yet, check them out in person and order one of their many scrumptious flavors. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.