INSIDE LOOK: Neighbors General Store & Ice Cream Parlor
5980 Spruce Creek Road • Port Orange // @NeighborsIceCream
By Tiffany Evers // Photos by Kelsey Walters
Q: What inspired you to open Neighbors General Store & Ice Cream Parlor?
A: The inspiration to open Neighbors came by accident. My husband was driving to work and noticed the lot for sale zoned commercial and thought that was strange in the middle of all the neighborhoods. Very excited he called the number and bought the land. At that time, our kids were 6, 8 and 10 years old. We thought it would be a great experience to teach them how to run a business. I have always made healthy homemade food for my family so we decided on handcrafted ice cream and a store for the neighborhood. Yay, they were excited! My husband bought a commercial ice cream maker (which we still use today) and we set up in our kitchen adapting recipes. Our family, friends and neighbors were so excited because they got to test all the recipes over and over again till we got it right. All the while, my three kids helped make ice cream and all the ingredients, with lots of sampling included. At that time, Russ, a family friend had retired from a big retail store looking for a new adventure so he was a perfect fit to run the store. Ten years later, we opened Neighbors. The kids were then 16, 18 and 20 years old. They all worked at Neighbors through high school and college along with their best friends.
A: All three of my children, now ages 25, 27 and 29, are still involved. The older boys, Kyle and Zack, are finance and accounting related. My daughter, Taylor, is computer and in-house operations while my daughter-in-law, Karly, is social media and has created our local restaurant ice cream pie business. She has worked very hard and has 10 very happy restaurants offering a local flare to their menus. What a good way to offer tourists and area locals a sample of other local business creations. Brenna is also very important to our business appearance, giving us visual eye candy with her stellar works of art on our walls and windows.
Q: When you step inside it’s like going back in time. When did you first open your doors to the public?
A: We opened our doors in November 2008. This year is our 10-year anniversary. We are always adding new dimensions to Neighbors. My son, Zack, along with his girlfriend, Brenna, moved to Hawaii years back and when they returned after three years they craved good coffee. That is how we hooked up with Island Roasters in NSB. I told them to find me good coffee and we will setup an espresso bar. Two weeks later, Island Roasters was roasting us their fresh organic coffee. Buying from other local businesses is very important to us.
Q: The sign says general store and ice cream parlor, but there is so much more. Tell me about all the different things you offer.
A: Neighbors was created to bring the community together. Whether it’s the people in our neighborhood or local-to-local businesses or bringing tourists into our local community. We tried to think of anything that the neighborhood would appreciate and we listen to what they want. We offer a full service contract US post office open the same hours as our store with a daily pick-up at 3 p.m. We offer breakfast until 5:30 p.m., homemade in-house bagels and array of pastries daily. Our lunch menu is extensive, offering Boars Head meat and cheeses with house-made roasted chicken, pork BBQ, meatballs, pizza and much more. We make our own Focaccia bread lunch special, pretzels and chicken salad. We have over 100 varieties of glass bottle old time sodas made with pure cane sugar, all cold and ready to drink. A very large selection of candy options from your childhood is also a fun addition to our store.
Q: What makes your ice cream stand out and how many flavors do you normally carry?
A: Our ice cream is my passion at Neighbors. We use fresh Florida cream with pure cane sugar as our base for the ice cream. Our ingredients for the ice cream are made from scratch with much love. Fruit-based ice cream and sorbet is fresh when in season, frozen when not. We make our own peanut butter cups, coconut Almond Joy bars, cookie dough, pralines, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, gravels, ladyfingers, vanilla wafers, caramel, hot fudge, pineapple and strawberry sauce. We even make our own marshmallows and I could go on and on. If it’s possible to make from scratch, we do it! We carry 32 different ice creams, as well as dairy-free, sorbets and sherbets. Our most popular is orange sherbet made with fresh hand-squeezed Florida oranges, when available.
Q: We hear the term homemade a lot lately, but when it comes to your place you truly mean it. Besides the ice cream itself, what else is homemade at Neighbors?
A: We have developed a waffle cone mix that is made daily from scratch then we decorate our cones with a chocolate that is melted in-house then covered with nuts or sprinkles. All of our toppings such as hot fudge, caramel, strawberry, pineapple sauce and wet walnuts are made in-house. The syrups for the Hawaiian shave ice start out with our homemade simple syrup then we add the pure flavor that we order straight from Hawaii. On a family vacation, we decided that our area needed to experience authentic Hawaiian shave ice. We make our own filtered ice blocks to start with a clear block of ice to shave. We used a Hawaiian shave ice food trailer to promote the store in the early years working with schools and city sports, donating part of sales to the involved sport groups. My kids ran the business and drove the trailer locally to events in our area for many years.
Q: Is your establishment pet-friendly? Do you offer treats for your pet guests as well?
A: We offer a pet friendly outdoor deck. The Port Orange dog park is across the street so we always offer our furry friends a free ice cream with each visit.
Q: You also carry an array of organic coffee drinks. What is the most popular item ordered on the coffee menu and what is the most unique item you offer?
A: We are very proud to serve fresh roasted organic coffee by Island Roasters in NSB. Our homemade crafted coffee syrups kick the coffee up a notch. We have chocolate ganache made in-house as well as caramel and vanilla syrups. One of our best selling coffee drinks is the nitro cold brew. We start with Island Roasters perfect cold brew blend soaked in water for 24 hours then straight to a nitrogen filled keg. The outcome is a foamy smooth iced coffee like no other. Of course, the espresso two-shot ice cream affogato is also very popular for a delightful pick-me-up.
Q: When it comes to good eats, Neighbors is at the top of the list again with homemade items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What dishes do you suggest we come try?
A: For breakfast, the house made yeast waffle is so unique. I adapted this recipe to pair with ice cream. My niece’s children have always loved a scoop of ice cream on top of this yummy waffle for a very special breakfast, but the waffle alone became one of our staples for breakfast – plain or fruit topped with a pure Wisconsin maple syrup on top purchased from a local neighbor. Our fresh baked bagels and gluten free muffins and donuts are also available daily. We have quite a following for our ever changing gluten free flavors! I have to mention our homemade soups that are also available by the quart. The lunch and dinner options are many but due to our long ice cream lines in the evening we have stopped serving food past 7 p.m. during our busy season.
Q: Do you offer catering for parties?
A: We offer catering for any type of gathering from office parties and business meetings to weddings. Megan is our head baker at Neighbors with a culinary degree in desserts, paired with several creative souls in the bake shop she is ready for any type of catering job.
Q: From time to time, you change up the artwork on the windows of your building with beautiful mosaic-like paintings. Do you work with a local artist?
A: I am very lucky to have in our family a super talented artist. Her mosaic-like technique is perfect for our store. She has done several other business around Volusia County as well as private homes to add a splash of happy to their surroundings. You can see more of her beautiful inspirations on Instagram at @Brenn_art.
Q: Are you considering opening another location in Volusia County?
A: We are always open to new ideas. Giving others the power to create is one of my missions at Neighbors. I feel with my family’s young minds and creative ideas about business, which they have picked up throughout this journey, anything is possible!
Neighbors General Store & Ice Cream Parlor
Hours: M-Th and Sunday 9:00am-9:00pm; Fri-Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm
In 2014 she was recognized by Editor & Publisher Magazine as one of the “25 Under 35” innovators in the newspaper industry. In 2016 she was elected to the Board of Directors for the Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce. @eccprint