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Monday, June 1, 2020

Sweetport Ice Cream

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The return of the neighborhood ice cream parlor

Nicole Spikes spent six years in college – earning two bachelor’s degrees – on her way to becoming a physician’s assistant.

She spent another 12 years treating patients with neurological disorders.

Serious stuff. So, naturally, she now owns an ice cream parlor.

“Luckily, my family is very supportive,” Spikes said. “They always go along with our crazy ideas. My husband and I are ‘project’ people. This is another one of our projects, so I don’t think too many people were surprised.”

Instead of using a stethoscope, Spikes’ tool of the trade is now an ice cream scoop. – a throwback to the 1950s ice cream parlors – opened in mid-May. You will find it at 3301 Line Ave. – in the old Glenwood Cleaners, across the street from C.E. Byrd High School.

“That didn’t hurt the location, for sure,” Spikes said about being within a Sno Ball’s (yes, Sweetport has those) throw from approximately 1,800 potential customers. “We want the kids to come over and be able to enjoy something – celebrate with their friends, celebrate with their families – after games and before games.”

But Sweetport is about more than serving high school students. Spikes wants it to be a neighborhood gathering place – the way ice cream parlors were back in the day.

“It’s kind of family-oriented, and we were looking for something that was for families – bringing families back into the neighborhood.”

One neighborhood family is already enjoying Sweetport. Margo Clendenin, her 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter love going to get an after-school or after-dinner scoop – while leaving their car at home.

“It’s awesome to have such a treat so accessible to home,” Clendenin said. “It really helps add charm to the neighborhood, knowing you can walk down the street or ride your bike down the street for a really delicious treat.”

Sweetport began in 2016 as “Sweetie,” a 1957 International Harvester metro van/ice cream truck that Spikes’ father, Ronald, took to neighborhoods and events. Now in semiretirement, Sweetie has given way to a brickand-mortar store. But by design – thanks to Spikes’ husband (Jeff), who is an architect – the 50s look and feel lives on.

“The truck is ‘50s, and we live in a midcentury modern home, so we are kind of stuck in that era,” Spikes said. “We wanted something that had that feel that was in a neighborhood that we felt connected to. We’ve had two homes on Gladstone Boulevard. We definitely love that area.”

Part of building a connection with the neighborhood – and the city – is the naming of Sweetport’s flavors, which have a local connotation. You can choose from the likes of Clyde Fant Crunchway, Bistineau Campfire Nights, and Caddough.”

“Sometimes we come up with the names, and sometimes we look to our Facebook fans to help us to figure something out we couldn’t come up with. It’s always fun.”

But before there is a name, there is a recipe.

“Usually, it starts with an idea,” Spikes said. “The ‘Elvis Has Left the Building,’ for instance. Someone told me they wanted a peanut butter and banana (Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich) flavor. They thought that would be a great idea, so we kind of went with it and developed it.”

But is Sweetport’s ice cream really better than what you buy at the grocery store, or at a nationally-known ice cream store that boasts 31 flavors? Well, who better to be the judge than kids?

“I let everybody pick their own flavor,” Clendenin said, remembering a recent visit with her children. “Seriously, everyone said this is the best I’ve ever had. To have that reaction from three different people (including herself) to three different flavors of ice cream tells you a lot about how good it is.”

Sweetport is just the latest in a number of locally-owned businesses which have recently opened.

“We’re having a resurgence here in Shreveport that I’m really happy to be a part of,” Spikes said. “There’s a lot of different local places that have started the last few years, around the same time we started Sweetie. We collaborate with a lot of different local places. Our Cypress Black Brew is our coffee ice cream – we use Rhino beans to make that. We’ve done some collaborations with Lowder Baking Company, where we’ve used their cookie cake pieces in our ice cream.”

Are you screaming for ice cream now? To learn more about Sweetport Ice Cream – including a look at their menu – you may visit www.sweetporticecream.com.

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