For Lindsay Schweiss, starting an ice cream shop to check off a bucket list item isn’t just a sweet daydream – it’s real life.
“I have this list of things I want to accomplish in my lifetime and being a business owner is one of them,” Schweiss said.
A long-time New Ulm resident, Schweiss looked around for ideas of what kind of business to start and realized that the town was missing something important.
“This was something I thought was a need in New Ulm,” she explained. “I think [an ice cream parlor] offers that moment to just forget about your troubles and give yourself a treat. It’s fun and special to share that with your family and your friends. For any adults coming in, it’s almost going back in time a little bit, too.”
A Sweet Match
Originally an occupational therapist, Schweiss wanted to get expertise from someone who had history in the ice cream selling business. She decided to contact Greg and Bria James, a husband and wife business duo who run The Main Scoop, an ice cream parlor in Waconia, Minn. that Schweiss especially admired. To her surprise, she learned the couple had already purchased a location in New Ulm’s historic downtown and were interested in taking her on as a partner.
Seeing bikes strewn across our sidewalk out front is something that makes me so happy.Lindsay Schweiss
“It felt kind of meant to be,” Schweiss said with a laugh. “We all fit together very nicely. We had a very similar vision for the shop and decided to just do it together.”
MN Eis Ice Cream and Sweets Shoppe threw open its doors in early June of 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schweiss and the Jameses felt that, despite the difficulties facing independent stores due to the uncertain economy, launching their business was the right choice for them.
“There was a time where we had to decide to pull the trigger or wait till the COVID stuff dies down,” shared Schweiss. “We decided to move forward with it, and I think that was a really good decision. When it came down to it, we all felt like people need something joyful right now, and it’s really hard to come into an ice cream shop and not be happy.”
The hope of creating joy influenced all of the team’s decisions, starting with the store name’s cheeky play on words. Under the slogan “It’s always nice at Minnesota Eis!”, the employees cheerfully serve up heaping scoops of flavors, from Rhubarb Crumble to Black Licorice.
The three partners chose to stock the same ice cream brand that the Jameses carry in their Waconia parlor. Based in Madison, Wis., the Chocolate Shoppe label offers nearly 100 flavors of premium ice cream. Unlike standard varieties, premium ice cream needs to meet certain requirements, including being 14 to 18 percent butterfat. This gives it a distinctively rich taste.
“I considered it the best before I ever opened my ice cream shop,” Schweiss said.
Having lived in Wisconsin for several years, she was delighted to introduce something from the neighbor state to her hometown.
Other than certain staples like chocolate and vanilla, the 24 flavors that MN Eis carries are constantly changing.
“We try to keep it constantly new and fresh,” Schweiss said. “You never know what you might find here.”
Flavor of Germany
Newcomers are often surprised to discover that the ice cream shop also provides an assortment of traditional German treats. Eiskaffe, a popular café drink in the Old World, is made at MN Eis with a cold brew coffee mixed with ice cream and served topped with homemade whip and chocolate sprinkles.
Obviously, New Ulm is a very German town, and our community members are very proud of our German heritage. All three of us right away wanted to add that German flair.Lindsay Schweiss
“Obviously, New Ulm is a very German town, and our community members are very proud of our German heritage,” said Schweiss. “All three of us right away wanted to add that German flair.”
The whimsical Spaghettieis is also fan favorite: Vanilla ice cream is run through a spaetzle press to resemble pasta noodles, drizzled with strawberry topping to resemble sauce, sprinkled with white chocolate “cheese,” and finished off with mock meatballs made of homemade cookie dough.
MN Eis’s in-house cookie dough is one of Schweiss’s favorite innovations.
“It’s delicious!” Schweiss said. “It’s just like taking a spoonful out of the bowl, but you don’t have to worry about getting sick from it because it’s made with heat-treated flour and eggless.”
Schweiss experimented with dozens of different recipes before settling on four varieties: classic chocolate chip, of course, along with peanut butter, a “naked” chocolate chip cookie dough without the chips, and unicorn, which is a sugar cookie and spritz combo bursting with sprinkles.
“That was mostly a Pinterest find for me!” Schweiss said with a laugh, adding that her family enthusiastically volunteered to taste-test for weeks while she tweaked and perfected the recipes.
Other than the cookie dough, other in-house goodies include all of MN Eis’s waffle cones and their selection of homemade fudge. While not strictly an ice cream-related confection, the fudge pairs perfectly with the store’s candy corner. Clear containers of old-fashioned sweets line the back walls, where customers can choose scoops of nostalgic sugary goodness.
“I think we all have such fond memories of going to penny candy stores and scoop shops like this, and being able to recreate some of those memories has been really fun to do,” said Schweiss. “It’s been even more fun seeing young kids in here getting excited about it.”
All three owners can be found manning the counter with the rest of MN Eis’s employees, chatting with customers and offering free samples. They enjoy the sight of happy visitors and consider these daily interactions to be the best part of their day.
“Seeing bikes strewn across our sidewalk out front is something that makes me so happy,” Schweiss said.
Watching kids discover the joys of an old-timey ice cream parlor is what really makes her feel successful.
“Hopefully, they’ll look back when they’re adults and remember the place as something more than an ice cream shop,” Schweiss shared. “I think that, nowadays, there’s so much that kids deal with that we never had to, and I like that this is just a safe space to have some fun and enjoy a treat.”