Just as “farm to table” restaurants support local farms, restaurateurs-turned-ice-cream-entrepreneurs Robbie Bidell and Matt Merrick are supporting local dairy farms — with a concept they like to call “from cow to beach” at their new Bethany Beach-area ice cream shop, Ba Roos.
Located at the Sea Colony Marketplace, right off Route 1, the shop offers 23 different flavors of farm-made ice cream from Hopkins Farm Creamery — a fourth-generation dairy farm just outside of Lewes.
“You can’t get much fresher,” said Merrick of the local product. “It’s going out and it’s coming right back. [Hopkins] does such a good job — it’s basically from the cow to the ice cream maker.”
Keeping it local is a trend for Ba Roos. Both Merrick and Bidell grew up locally, and now they’re both raising families in that same local area. They hire local kids from the local high school, sponsor local events and, obviously, sell local products.
“We want to support local. We want local to support us,” Merrick explained. “Almost all our kids are from Indian River. They represent the sports teams there. It’s funny — all the people coming in, it’s like an everybody-knows-everybody type of place for sure already.”
The shop is also entrenched in the local surf scene, not only as one of the sponsors of the Atlantic Shoals and Relyance Skim Camp’s Thursday-night skim jam, but as supporters of the Colin Herlihy and Brian Stoehr Surf School and local surfing, skimming and skating in general.
“We’re teaming up with them. They’re teaming up with us,” Bidell said. “I like to think of this area as a farm/beach town.”
“Our theme is kind of ‘beach, surf, skim, skate,’” Merrick added. “If you come in, you’ll kind of get it.”
Right now, the shop shows surf movies to go along with the bright, beach-themed atmosphere; but they’re also planning on showing local surf and skim footage, as well, and will soon hang some signed surf- and skimboards from local pros.
While their ice cream and atmosphere are certainly enough to set them apart, it’s not the only reason to stop in. Ba Roos also offers sundaes with a variety of toppings, floats, shakes, fresh-made smoothies and fresh-squeezed lemonades, and soon they’ll offer coffee drinks, as well.
“It’s a build your own float, if you want half chocolate/half vanilla with a Mountain Dew — so be it,” Bidell explained. “For the folks in the morning, after you get done running, you want a power-shake or a smoothie or some lemonade.”
Soon, the shop will venture into specialty sundaes, as well, with the first one they have in mind going along with the surf theme and being named after big-wave surfing pioneer Laird Hamilton.
“We’re gonna do the Laird Hamilton — go big,” Merrick described of what will be their biggest sundae. “Do it in a bucket and have four or five spoons.”
Another added feature to watch for from Ba Roos will be when Hopkins teams up with Pfeifer’s — a local orchard — to come up with their summer flavors using fresh and local fruit.
“We basically have every flavor [Hopkins has]. Then they do some awesome ones with Pfeifer’s, which is one of the local orchards,” Merrick said. “They pick it from their orchard and put it together.”
Since opening Memorial Day weekend, Merrick and Bidell said, the shop has seen nothing but success and gotten positive feedback; but, for them, this is just the start. They’ll be working with Hopkins on new ice cream flavors, catering events with their mobile bicycle-powered ice cream cooler, and eventually will take Ba Roos further into the dessert market, with pies and cakes.
Ba Roos can be reached by calling (302) 616-2250 or stop by the Sea Colony Marketplace on Route 1, just south of Bethany Beach.