KANKAKEE — Kankakee business owner Terrance Hooper never backs away from a challenge. Where some may see an obstacle, Hooper sees an opportunity.
Best known for the operation of the Grapes & Hops Wine Bar in downtown Kankakee and co-owner of the Burfield + Remington building, Hooper, along with two business partners, is set to open another business in the heart of the city.
Rebel Ice Cream Co., inside the historic Burfield + Remington building, 150 N. Schuyler Ave., is slated to open for business at 10 a.m. Saturday.
That’s right. There will be an ice cream shop in downtown Kankakee.
While Hooper may not be the chief scooper, he is the inspiration behind this latest Burfield + Remington-based business.
“I have only scooped maybe two ice cream cones professionally in my life,” Hooper, of Kankakee, confessed. “I went to Wisconsin for this training. This has been fun, interesting and different, but I think people are going to love what we are offering.”
Teaming with his brother, Tim Craft, of Kankakee, and friend, Art Ziarko, of Bourbonnais, the three bring scooped ice cream — in cones or cups, including their own in-house made waffle cones — as a downtown offering.
The location will feature 24 flavors of ice cream from five Midwest-based ice cream companies: Purple Door Ice Cream, of Milwaukee, Wis.; Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co., of Madison, Wis.; Zarlengo’s Italian Ice & Gelato, of Chicago Heights; Sherman’s Ice Cream, of South Haven, Mich.; and Hudsonville Ice Cream, of Holland, Mich.
The location will also offer edible cookie dough from Total Cluster Fudge, of Brighton, Mich.
Hooper noted these labels are classified as “super premium” brands. What does that mean, you ask? Super premium is the highest level and that rating is based on the amount of butter fat and air infused into the ice cream. Ice cream contains a considerable amount of air which can allow it to be light for putting it in a cone.
He said his offerings will be heavier, meaning richer in flavor and more filling.
Located within only 524-square-feet, the shop will offer seating for 11. And while not yet set up, the business will soon offer mobile ordering.
“We want to be as tech-friendly as possible,” Hooper said.
Anyone who is familiar with Hooper knows that he has the creativity to think of nearly everything. And since he has operated a wine bar for the past seven years, what could connect the two locations in a more fitting way than offering ice cream samplers in “flights,” most often associated with wine, beer or whisky tastings.
Rebel Ice Cream will offer four, 1-ounce tastings or four, 2-ounce tastings. Those can either be consumed at the location or can be ordered “to go.”
In most cases, an ice cream shop features a singular brand. But in his “rebel” fashion, Hooper was able to convince suppliers that it would be to everyone’s benefit to open the location to multiple offerings.
“We have been tasting ice creams from all over. We believe we are bringing in the best of the best,” he said.
And like his wine bar, Hooper and his partners will be able to change up flavors and offerings. He said ice cream staples such as vanilla and chocolate will always be available, but there will also be unique flavors and combinations within the freezer.
And while ice cream is so often associated with the youth — he said his location will certainly welcome the younger audience — the business will be adult focused.
It has been quite an undertaking.
“I don’t know how many hours I spent shopping for ice cream spoons,” he chuckled. “You would think that would be a relatively simple thing. I believe everything is important. I want people to be able to feel and see the difference when they walk in. We are not following traditional ice cream shop protocol.”
The shop will be open from 2 to 9 p.m.-ish Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.-ish Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m.-ish on Sunday.
Why the “ish?” Hooper said if people are seeking ice cream, they will serve until the customers are satisfied.
Hooper admits this venture has him more than a little bit nervous.
“I have some butterflies about it,” he said. “I wanted to make sure this was special. I’ve learned so much over the past years as to what people want. I’m inspired by what I have done at Grapes & Hops.”