Ample Hills returns under original founders

Ample Hills co-founders Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith.
Ample Hills co-founders Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith.
File photo courtesy of Liz Clayman

The beloved Brooklyn-based ice cream purveyor Ample Hills Creamery is reopening under its original owners, marking the latest twist in the brand’s rocky history. 

Husband-and-wife duo Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna announced that they have re-acquired the company, known for churning out innovative and story-themed ice creams, from Schmitt Industries, an Oregon-based machine parts company. 

Schmitt had acquired the company from Smith and Cuscuna in 2020 for $1 million, after the married founders filed for bankruptcy as profits struggled to keep up during a period of spectacular expansion.  

Yet, Schmitt Industries failed to turn things around, and shuttered all 12 of their stores in December. 

Last month, the couple bought the stores back for $150,000 from Schmitt Industries, according to the New York Times. The duo confirmed the news by posting an image from the story on the company’s business page.

“So excited to share the news that Ample Hills is coming back!” the post reads. “We feel incredibly grateful to have a chance to lead this little ice cream shop that we started as a family 12 years ago. We know not everyone gets a second chance after making some big mistakes. We are humbled and honored to come back and we will work with love and passion to make it right this time around.”

The couple will reopen its original Brooklyn store in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn on Wednesday, June 21, and will begin reopening some other locations after that — possibly including their location on Union Street in Gowanus, and their Park Slope location on Prospect Park West. 

The original Ample Hills store in Prospect Heights.
The original Ample Hills store in Prospect Heights.File photo

Schneps Media reached out to the company for comment but did not get a response prior to publication.

The couple say they learned valuable lessons during their first stint as owners of the company, and are determined to make the second act last. They also opened an ice cream and donut shop in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn two years ago 2021 called The Social.

The couple is being backed by Norm Brodsky, 84, a high-profile New York entrepreneur who has invested “nearly seven figures,” according to the New York Times.

Ample Hills built a reputation for its zany flavors and locally sourced ingredients. It was the first ice cream parlor in the city to pasteurize on-site — making it a registered dairy plant in the process.

Ample Hills locations often had their own neighborhood-exclusive flavors too.

For instance, its Park Slope location had an offering called the “Meet me on the Long Meadow,” in recognition of the proximity to Brooklyn’s Backyard across the street from the Prospect Park West outpost. 

Meanwhile, their location at the Fulton Ferry Landing in Dumbo served up “I Contain Breakfast Foods” — an ode to Walt Whitman’s famous line “I contain multitudes,” as the brand’s name comes from Whitman’s classic poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”

A version of this story first appeared on our sister website, TheQueensPost.

For more coverage of Ample Hills, head to BrooklynPaper.com.