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Ice-cream twist: Shuttered Ample Hills Creamery set to reopen, including at prominent Astoria location

Ample Hills, located at 34-02 30th Ave. in Astoria (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Ample Hills Creamery, the popular ice cream purveyor, is set to reopen under its original owners in what is the latest twist in the brand’s storied history. The Ample Hills Astoria location 34-02 30th Ave., pictured in January (Photo by Michael Dorgan)

June 19, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

Ample Hills Creamery, the popular ice cream purveyor, is set to reopen under its original owners in what is the latest twist in the brand’s storied history.

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

The pair — both aged 53 -—established the creamery in Brooklyn in 2011 and quickly grew to operate out of more than a dozen locations. The couple, however, ran into financial difficulties following such rapid growth and filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2020.

Schmitt Industries then bought the business for $1 million but struggled to turn a profit — shutting down all 12 of its stores—including its two in Queens in late December.

Some Ample Hills ice creams (Photo Ample Hills website)

Last month, the couple bought the stores back for $150,000 from Schmitt Industries, according to a New York Times story on Friday, June 16. 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.”

Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna in 2020 (Photo : Instagram)

The couple will reopen its original Brooklyn store in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn on Wednesday, June 21. Its former store at 34-02 30th Ave. in Astoria, as well as its Upper West Side location, will also reopen this summer, according to the company’s Instagram page.

The company’s store in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City, located at 5-36 50th Ave., has been taken over by the ice cream chain Emack & Bolio’s.

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 Astoria location had an offering called the “Nectar of the Queens” in recognition of the neighborhood’s Greek population. It was a smooth honey cinnamon ice cream mixed with the classic Greek pastries of baklava and galaktoboureko.

Meanwhile, the Long Island City location’s version was called “Cherry Cola,” after the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign situated on the Hunters Point waterfront. It was made with Pepsi-Cola flavored ice cream and cherry white chocolate flakes.

A worker with an Ample Hills ice cream (Photo provided by Ample Hills)

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