A year ago: A conversation with Alex and Christine, owners of Superior Creamery in downtown Grand MaraisJun 05, 2023 09:04AM ● By Content Editor
Image provided (Alex, Sam, and Christine - in order from left to right)
By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media Exclusive - June 3, 2022
Editor's note (June 5, 2023): Happy one-year anniversary to our friends at Superior Creamery. They opened one year ago on June 4. Enjoy this interview from 2022 with the owners, Alex and Christine.
If you’ve ever wished for an ice cream shop in downtown Grand Marais, your wish is coming true.
On Saturday, June 4, 2022, Superior Creamery on Broadway Street will open its doors at 11 am.
Boreal’s Laura Durenberger-Grunow met with owners Alex and Christine to talk about opening their new shop, what brought them to the community of Grand Marais, and of course, ice cream.
Walking into Superior Creamery on Broadway Street on a sunny morning, it immediately felt like an inviting space. Since closing on the building in mid-April, owners Alex and Christine told me that they’ve done all the interior remodeling themselves (including ripping up carpet, taking off wall paneling, painting, and more), and had help from some excellent contractors for the exterior space.
Inside Superior Creamery. Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow
Being new to the area, I had never seen inside the space before, but it has a long history. Initially opening in the 1920s as a bakery, it has also housed multiple restaurants and a hardware store.
I asked the couple why they selected this spot instead of the handful of other options they looked at. “The size, the kitchen (which is as large or larger than the main dining area, and the terms of the lease” were all major factors according to Alex.
The big kitchen is needed because not only do they make the ice cream on-site, they eventually plan to offer a small menu of hot food, including a couple of appetizers (ice cream and fries, anyone?), hearty and wholesome bowls, and maybe sandwiches and salads. But they’re not rushing into things just yet. “Ice cream first, then the other things will follow shortly after,” they said.
Alex and Christine mentioned that it is really important to them that the space be welcoming and accessible, not only for people visiting but for the local community as well. That’s why they plan to be open six days a week in the summer months, and continue operating year-round (exact schedule TBD). Additionally, they’re planning on having an outdoor patio that is dog friendly.
“We love dogs”, said Christine, specifically mentioning their Husky mix Sam. In fact, dogs are what brought Alex to Alaska, where Christine was already living.
Christine is originally from Florida, and moved to Alaska in 2014 to become a boat captain for whale watching and fishing expeditions during the tourist season. “During the off-season, I worked in state legislation,” she said.
Meanwhile, in the early 2000s, Alex came to Grand Marais from Maine to work at a canoe outfitting company along the Gunflint Trail. Along the way, he also learned how to train sled dogs, which brought him to Alaska.
Long story short, the two met, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to 2020 at the start of the pandemic, the tourism industry tanked, and Alex had a family health emergency that brought the couple back to the continental United States. The two converted a van and eventually ended up traveling around the US, making multiple stops in Grand Marais.
Alex noted that “having lived here [in Grand Marais] before, I felt it was a place that could potentially be a permanent home”. Luckily, Christine felt the same way, and while on their travels during the height of the pandemic, the couple started brainstorming different business ideas and looking for potential storefronts.
The storefront of Superior Creamery is warm and inviting. Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow
“We love ice cream”, said Alex, so it was a natural fit to start a creamery for them, which brings us back to the beginning of the story.
The couple shared that while getting the Creamery ready to open in six weeks has been trying, they’ve also been blown away by how accommodating, helpful, and gracious the community has been, which has left them feeling incredibly grateful.
“Supporting local is very important to us, and we’ve partnered with local Minnesota dairy producers to get our dairy supply from for the ice cream”, they said, as just one example.
One of their goals is to utilize as many local businesses and vendors as possible, and Alex told me that these entities (and even ones that are not as local) have all been super accommodating with Superior Creamery’s timeline to open as soon as possible.
Both Alex and Christine shared their gratefulness for how excited everyone in the community has been. And what’s not to be excited about?
They plan on having eight flagship flavors, with additional rotating flavors featuring local and seasonal ingredients. Additionally, they’re working on perfecting a non-dairy option which they hope to be available soon after opening.
I asked if they’ve had a chance to experiment with a variety of different flavors and they both replied that they’ve started, but are hoping to perfect the classics first.
“Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream,” mentioned Christine. Alex chimed in that they both feel that “if you don’t have a classic flavor like vanilla down, which is the base of every flavor, it’s hard to find a good jumping-off point.”
One of the last questions I asked Alex and Christine was what they wanted people to experience when they visit Superior Creamery.
“We want Superior Creamery to be an accessible, welcoming place for everyone. We want people to feel comfortable coming in and being able to connect with the community, study and work, or just sit and read while enjoying ice cream and [eventually] warm food. We look forward to meeting visitors to the area as well as those who live here.” says Alex.
Image: Superior Creamery logo
Superior Creamery is located at 7 Broadway Avenue in Grand Marais, MN.
Opening date/time: Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 11am.
For more information, visit the Superior Creamery website here.