We just love ice cream!
By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE
CENTRAL FALLS — Serving others runs in the Barzykowski family. Whether it's Jerry and Simone Barzykowski starting a charitable endeavor that grew to become the annual Holiday Express breakfast, which serves thousands of city residents every December, or their son Daniel joining the Central Falls Police Department to serve and protect the city and those who call it home, the family is always looking to give back.
That family tradition will soon continue out of a 15-foot-by-30-foot brick building at 1306 Broad St. near the banks of the Blackstone River, as the Barzykowskis are readying for the grand opening of Mimi & Pop’s Ice Cream Shop, named after Simone and Jerry.
Daniel Barzykowski, now a police major in Central Falls, said that he is always trying to do good for the community, saying that he saw an opportunity to provide a destination that the city has lacked since Scoop at the Falls, just a block down Broad Street, closed about 15 years ago.
“Who doesn't like ice cream? It's nice to serve up happiness and to see the smiles on their faces,” Barzykowski said.
Barzykowski's wife, Laura, two years ago first proposed the idea of opening their own frozen treat parlor, and after scouring locations around Central Falls, they came upon the space on Broad Street that was vacant after its previous tenant – a cellphone retailer – closed.
After identifying the home of their future business, the family got to work, renovating the space internally; upgrading electrical appliances and getting them commercial ready; installing new floors and ceilings; and adding three walk-up windows from the sidewalk.
Mimi & Pop's will not only provide cool snacks on a warm day, they'll also provide jobs, as Barzykowski says they will look to engage the local community by hiring students from Central Falls High School to work part-time at the parlor.
City Council President Robert Ferri said that the ice cream parlor will be a “welcome addition” to one of the city's main thoroughfares. He said that not only will it put a business in a once-vacant storefront, but he also saw the shop as a destination in a city that, while it may be only a square-mile in size, is already big on flavor.
“I don't think we have an ice cream parlor in the city anymore. The last one was on Broad Street near the falls, right at the landing – Scoop at the Falls,” Ferri said. “I used to go every other night with my daughter on those hot summer days.”
Now, Ferri said, a whole new generation of city residents will be able to enjoy a cone or a scoop on a warm day or a sweltering evening.
“It just sounds good,” he added. “Everybody likes ice cream.”
Ferri also said that when Barzykowski and his wife came before the council's Board of License Commissioners seeking approval for a restaurant license, the couple indicated that they could offer various discounts for seniors and youth athletic leagues. The board last week gave its unanimous approval to the ice cream shop.
The Barzykowski family have called Central Falls home since the mid-1970s, and while they have done much for the city, neither Jerry nor Simone could have envisioned having their names attached to an ice cream parlor.
“It's cool,” Simone said with a smile.
“I said I'm retired, I don't need a job, but an ice cream shop? Let's go for it!” Jerry said when he recalled his son first proposing the idea of Mimi & Pop's.
While Barzykowski will be taking on the role of an ice cream entrepreneur, don't think that he's about to turn in his badge for a scoop, as he said that he'll still be a major with the Police Department while also working weekends and evenings at the snack shack.
Mimi & Pop's will feature 32 flavors of hard ice cream, 24 flavors of soft-serve, six types of frozen yogurt, 20 styles of slush, milkshakes, floats, “Totally Bananas” brand frozen bananas that are new to Rhode Island, and cups and cones in sugar, wafer, waffle, and gluten-free. Additionally, Mimi & Pop's will also pay tribute to their home city with sundaes named after local destinations including Quinn Square, Cogswell Tower, Blackstone Falls, and Chocolateville.
“We're trying to have something for everybody,” Barzykowski said. “No matter the flavor or taste buds, we'll be able to make it.”
In addition to providing something for every human sweet tooth imaginable, Mimi & Pop's will also offer “doggy sundaes,” a special sundae blend made exclusively for canines that will be topped with a Milk-Bone dog biscuit.
With a motto of “Have a Fun Dae,” Mimi & Pop's will be holding their soft opening on March 31, with a ribbon-cutting planned for April 1. The shop will then be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Follow Jonathan Bissonnette on Twitter @J_Bissonnette