Time is quickly melting away for this beloved creamery!
The owners of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in Brooklyn Bridge Park must close their store inside the historic fireboat station at Fulton Ferry Landing by the end of the year, after green-space stewards handed the keys to the property to the folks behind another borough scoop shop, Ample Hills Creamery.
“They made a choice, I have until the end of this month to vacate,” said Mark Thompson, who owns the Dumbo creamery with restaurateur Buzzy O’Keefe of the famous River Cafe next door.
News of the Factory’s imminent end came as a cold slap in the face to dozens of fans of the creamery at the Dumbo end of the park — which opened in 2001 back when the city’s Economic Development Corporation operated the station — many of whom left comments lamenting the change on an Instagram post announcing its closure.
“Wait just one minute! I always stop and get ice cream, even got my friends hooked too,” Instagram user Cetera D. said “You are the main attraction for Pier 1!”
The long-time ice-cream vendor’s exit will make way for the arrival of a larger Brooklyn Bridge Park outpost of the ever-expanding, borough-based Ample Hills, which will ditch the tiny concession stand it currently operates at the other end of the meadow on Pier 5 and set up shop inside the fireboat station.
Green-space leaders chose Ample Hills — which is also in the process of opening a Park Slope outpost, and a massive ice-cream factory in Red Hook — after this summer issuing a request for proposals from vendors interested in moving into the station, according to park bigwig David Lowin. That request came months after city officials handed control of the public space over to meadow keepers last year.
Thompson submitted a proposal to keep his shop operating in the space, but said he was told to make a better offer than what he initially proposed, before ultimately getting the boot.
“They asked me if I would be willing to up our offer, we weren’t really in the ball game,” he said. “They chose to go in a whole other direction.”
Brooklyn Bridge Park head Eric Landau said he and fellow leaders of the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which oversees the lawn, are trying to find another space in the sprawling meadow for Thompson and O’Keefe’s beloved sweet spot, noting that the Pier 5 stand Ample Hills will soon vacate is among the options.
“We are in conversations with them about other opportunities in the park, that is certainly one of the other opportunities,” said Landau.
But Thompson called that offer a joke, because the booth is roughly a quarter of the size of his current station setup, making it impossible to employ his dozens of employees and churn out the freshly made frozen stuff his creamery is known for.
“I said I’m not interested. It barely fits two employees and a scooping freezer,” said the co-owner, who also runs a Greenpoint location of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. “We made everything on the premises. The thing that bothers me most is that I have 38 employees — all jobs I cant maintain without a place.”
Ample Hills will open its creamery in the first floor of the firehouse station, according to park reps, who said the building’s second floor will soon be the new home of a handicapped-accessible Brooklyn Historical Society exhibit that pays homage to the history of the building, and the original Brooklyn Ferry, which first set sail across the East River to Manhattan in 1642.
Park officials also tapped restaurateurs Alex and Miles Pincus, the men behind the floating restaurant Pilot aboard a boat that docks at the park’s Pier 6 in the warmer months, to open another seasonal cafe and bar in the outdoor area outside the firehouse station, which will feature additional seating on the deck of another vessel — the restored New York City Fire Department boat, the Governor Alfred E. Smith — that they will dock at the site.
Ample Hills and the Pincus brothers each received 10-year leases with three-year renewal options for their new spaces, according to park reps, who said both operations are set to open by summer 2019.