Longtime Bend residents purchase iconic ice cream shop in the Old Mill District, add to menu Ultimate Hot Chocolate.
Hours after Luann Abrams finalized a deal to become the new owner of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in Bend’s Old Mill District, she flew to the company’s headquarters in Vermont for a week of rigorous training. Ultimately, she would have to get behind the counter and prove herself in front of the company’s higher-ups and employees with a critical eye – and taste – for perfection.
“It’s harder to accurately scoop ice cream than you think,” Abrams said, fresh off her trip to Ben & Jerry’s HQ and Scoop U where she perfected sundaes, shakes and ice cream cakes while learning the ins and outs of being a part of one of America’s truly iconic brands. “But ice cream just makes people so happy. Everyone was super happy to be there and that’s what I love about this company.”
Abrams and her husband Matt, both Bend residents for more than 20 years, took over ownership in late September after the long-time previous owners, Carl and Boo Rigney, decided to move out of the area. The transfer of ownership, much to the surprise of Luann Abrams, was more than a decade in the making. Matt and Carl met years ago at Compass Park while their young children were playing. They’ve been friends ever since and Matt liked to joke that if Carl ever decided to sell the scoop shop, he should be the first to know. Then came an e-mail from Carl this summer. And things – as they say – escalated quickly.
“We were not looking to run a Ben & Jerry’s,” Luann said with a laugh, adding that she knew nothing of Matt and Carl’s apparent secret plan.
Matt, who Luann said is obsessed with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, didn’t have to sell her on the idea. He just passed along the email and said it was something they should consider. Luann’s background is in aerospace engineering and she has a track record of successful businesses including founding CEOX, which helps place women in CEO and other leadership roles around the country. Matt has 25 years experience in the enterprise software engineering industry and is an experienced investor.
She said she felt more and more comfortable about the plan every day during her week in Burlington, learning alongside new Ben & Jerry employees, owners and franchisees and hearing from those who had been with the company for years.
“I think one of biggest things I learned is just how important it is to be mission-aligned and working in a business aligned with your values,” she said. “Having a real purpose and passion for the work you’re doing can really translate and I think that’s why Ben & Jerry’s was a good fit for us. It’s mission and values aligned with us. Knowing what we’re doing is for the greater good.” Abrams said part of the appeal of owning a Ben & Jerry’s is the simplicity of a scoop shop.
As for the new owners’ favorite flavors?
“Before I bought Ben & Jerry’s, it was Americone Dream, but now that I’ve been in the shop and have been able to sample all day long, I have a lot more favorites,” she said singling out Butterscotch’d and Marshmallow Sky, two flavors you can only get in a scoop shop. What else is only available in the scoop shop? Ultimate Hot Chocolate! This winter Ben & Jerry’s in the Old Mill District is serving Hot Chocolate Therapy, Mint Chocolate Chunk, Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz, and Luann’s new favorite Hot NON-Chocolate made with vanilla and caramel. Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in the Old Mill District is open Sunday through Thursday Noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday Noon to 9 p.m.