EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Ice cream season is here! And while many communities have their favorite ice cream spot or two, East Grand Rapids is home to something really special.
Jersey Junction in Gaslight Village is more than just an ice cream shop, there is a ton of history packed into those four walls and the deck out front. We checked it out for this week's Taste of My Town.
"Can we go to Jersey Junction?"
It's something kids have been asking for 54 years. "Jersey Junction is about nostalgia, it's one of those places you just walk in and feel the old time charm," said owner Elias Olivarez.
And the rich history. The ice cream parlor was opened in 1963 by Doris VanAllsburg. She is the mother of Chris Van Allsburg, who wrote the Polar Express and Jumanji, among other children's books. And according to Olivarez, Chris still visits every year.
Little else has changed at the old fashioned East Grand Rapids ice cream parlor since Doris opened the doors decades ago -- and that's intentional. The place has been frozen in time, to honor those who made fond memories here. And to honor Doris who certainly made her mark on this city.
"She actually was the one who coined the phrase Gaslight Village and had 40 of these lamps put in around the area," said Olivarez."So now we are lucky to say that we have the last remaining working original lamp on the porch of Doris' shop and we maintain it and keep it going to just kind of honor what she started here."
You might say every dip is a tribute to Doris. Jersey Junction primarily sells Hudsonville ice cream and Olivarez says the parlor is the number one dip shop seller of the brand in the state.
There are dozens of flavors to choose from, including some vegan options. "In the area, there is a lot of kids with diabetic restrictions and that gives them the option to still get a scoop of ice cream with their families," Olivarez explained. "We do everything you can possibly think of."
Including something they call the cookie split which uses Oreos or Nutter Butters split alongside three scoops of any ice cream flavor you'd like.
For Olivarez, it's not just about ice cream -- it's about tradition, and family. His mom worked at Jersey Junction back in the 60's.
"I love that I have a personal history with it and actually right in the hallway here is her old smock," he siad. "She found stashed away in the attic so I had it framed and put it up to honor that history that my family has with the shop.
And that what it is about -- everyone has their own history with this shop. So this whole place is about tradition and the reason we bought it was to continue that tradition, plain and simple."
Jersey Junction is open 7 days a week on Croswell. Click here to learn more.
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