After a tasty test run late last year, The Scoop is looking forward to reopening soon to offer artisan ice cream as the perfect complement to Martin City’s already famous culinary culture.
Who doesn’t love ice cream? Well the difference between T.J. Carr and the rest of us is the fact that he won’t settle for simply enjoying a taste. Carr wants to explore, reinvent and perfect ice cream, and he’s counting on his restaurant background and a lifelong passion to make it happen.
“I’m an ice cream fanatic,” declares Carr. “My wife loves it, my kids love it, and my parents love it. The Carr family is an ice cream family. That’s just how it is.”
While that may sound like your own family’s love of ice cream, this probably doesn’t…
“When my wife and I were married nine years ago, ice cream was the centerpiece at our wedding, not cake. It was very different but we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Ice cream was the priority.”
Last year, Carr’s passion turned into The Scoop, a tiny startup that wound up in a kiosk on 135th Street when a shaved ice business moved out.
“They were closing down and I decided to buy the building with the help of the Martin City Brewing Company Restaurant Group, which already owned the property. Together, we now own The Scoop.”
Carr was delighted to learn that the 8 x 14 building located in KC Running Company’s sizable parking lot had a lot to offer a budding ice cream business; freezers, countertops, electricity and even WiFi. A few picnic tables and a scenic view of Martin City’s main drag completed the picture and set The Scoop up to do what it does best, which promises to be even better this year.
“Last fall we were really just stretching our legs and finding our way,” explains Carr. “This year will truly be our grand opening and we’re excited by the energy we’re already feeling in the community.”
A Flavor that Favors High Expectations
Ice cream at The Scoop is more in the direction of custard or gelato than what you might consider traditional ice cream. It’s especially rich and creamy with robust flavor. This year The Scoop is upping its game from eight flavor options to at least 12.
Chocolate and vanilla purists will welcome news that both classics will remain on the menu, but you can also expect delicious experimentation resulting in flavors like Lemon Poppy Seed, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Strawberry Cheesecake. Carr says he’s eyeing a couple of non-dairy, vegan options too. Sound good? Grab a spoon.
“Customers love what we’re coming up with,” says Carr. “We’ve had terrific feedback and some strong Yelp reviews. Feedback is everything to us.”
What makes The Scoop so good? Their process is especially careful, blending precise amounts of ingredients that are hand-selected or specially developed to deliver superior quality and bold taste. Carr is also the General Manager at Martin City Brewing Company and its Pizza and Tap Room next door where he finds added inspiration and opportunity for cultivating it.
“Last year, for example, we made a bourbon-glazed peach flavor. I took peaches, bourbon butter, and brown sugar, and threw it all in the pizza oven to melt it down and caramelize it before mixing it in. So the bourbon cooked out and left just enough flavor to make it all unbelievably good.”
When you’re trying to push the limits of artisan ice cream, it helps to have a restaurant background to broaden your idea of what’s possible. Carr says his experience seasons his creativity.
“How do you use restaurant cooking techniques to influence ice cream flavors rather than just defaulting to the usual ice cream ingredients? That’s a central question and exploring answers leads to amazing flavors that get people talking.”
You can get your scoops at The Scoop in a waffle cone, cake cone, or cup. And you can expect special features occasionally like hand-made ice cream sandwiches. The Scoop will be open Monday through Sunday from 3 pm to 9 pm on weekdays and from noon to 9 pm on weekends.
How Cream Rises to the Top
Carr’s good taste goes back to sweet childhood memories of local mom-and-pop ice cream shops in Lee’s Summit. By the age of 16, the restaurant industry had scooped him up and put him on management tracks at Applebee’s and then Houlihan’s before he eventually crossed paths with Martin City restaurateur Matt Moore, owner of the fast-growing Martin City Brewing Company empire.
“I joined Matt about four years ago and I’ve learned so much from him,” says Carr. “He’s invested so much in Martin City and is happy to share his knowledge about what it takes to succeed.”
Standing in long lines at ice cream shops in Kansas City got Carr thinking about the possibilities and soon he was bouncing ideas off Moore. The next thing he knew, Moore had bought him an ice cream machine and was urging him to experiment.
“Matt was very encouraging. I had a machine and no reason to hold back. So I made some ice cream to try out with pub customers and used their feedback to refine it. I also got great advice from other ice cream makers around town and became convinced that we could do this.”
More help came from long-time family friends Jeremy Fiscus and Sammie Jo Logan. Both were also restaurant veterans. The team decided to start production in the basement of The Martin Event Space, another neighborhood business under Matt Moore’s umbrella.
“We really jumped right in,” says Carr. “It was so much work every day. Jeremy and Sammie put in long hours at night mixing ingredients and making test batches of ice cream. I was running back and forth from the pub to taste, sample, and compare notes until recipes were finalized.”
Jeremy and Sammie’s commitment and influence proved to be critical. They fell in love with The Scoop and put in the kind of work the business needed to get off the ground.
“I couldn’t do it without them. We work closely together to develop and perfect flavors. And they do so much of the leg work making it all come together. They buy books, scour Pinterest pages, and just really do their ice cream research to keep us in the know.”
The Scoop production managers Sammie Jo Logan and Jeremy Fiscus. Photo courtesy of The Scoop.
2020 is expected to be The Scoop’s breakout year. The team will focus on nailing down their processes and thinking about where it could all go. Carr hopes to earn a reputation that strengthens Martin City’s appeal as a destination for good food.
There could be other locations eventually, but for now, it’s a delicious treat reserved only for those who visit our neighborhood. And be sure to text “TREAT” to 555888 to join The Scoop Club for seasonal grand opening announcements and discounts to make your Martin City tour even sweeter.