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The Village Ice Cream Factory opens in SW Portland in former Blue Star Donuts space

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Don Webber (left) and Tracy Webber (right) recently launched The Village Ice Cream Factory in Southwest Portlands Multnomah Village neighborhood. The Webbers make their ice cream on site and offer rotating flavors ranging from classic chocolate and vanilla to cereal and candy bar infusions.Multnomah Village may have lost a donut shop, but it gained an ice cream parlor.

The Village Ice Cream Factory opened in December on Southwest Capitol Highway, in the former Blue Star Donuts location.

The smell of waffle cones wafts around the block as owners Don and Tracy Webber await their first customers of the day. The Webbers are newcomers to Portland, relocating roughly a year ago from Texas, where torrential rain and hurricanes drove them westward.

Tracy Webber, a self-described "meat and potatoes guy from the Midwest," is the creative force behind most of the shop's ice cream flavors. In a move that seems almost foreign in the Portland food landscape, Webber aims to avoid pretentious ingredients or fringe flavor profiles.

With the help of a Kickstarter campaign and feedback from initial taste testers, the new shop owners are making each batch on site. They've concocted more than 15 rotating flavors, ranging from classics like chocolate chip, to fruit combos like blueberry banana sorbet, and one of Webber's favorites, Cookie Monster, using Oreo cookies. Menus thus far have included pistachio and stroopwafel, the popular caramel-filled Dutch wafer cookies.

Customers can also expect to find their favorite brands of cereal and candy bars like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Heath toffee bars as ice cream flavors on the menu. There are non-dairy offerings for vegans, gluten-free options and made-to-order ice cream sandwiches.

The Village Ice Cream Factory is the first business venture for the Webbers. Don Webber is a real estate agent and Tracy Webber still works a full time remote day job doing administrative work in healthcare support.

"It's been my lifelong dream to open a shop of some sort," Tracy Webber said. "It wasn't necessarily ice cream."

He thought about pursuing a Baskin Robbins franchise. Webber said it penciled out financially, but didn't seem like a good fit in the neighborhood.

"The franchise model doesn't work in Multnomah Village because people are so independent. They want small independent stores, not franchise stores. I'm the same way," Webber said. "So we make all our own (ice cream.)"

He started out by tinkering on a Cuisinart ice cream maker. Then, he got serious and found an industrial scale Emery Thompson batch freezer for sale through a private party. The only problem? It was in Idaho.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Tracy Webber, co-owner of The Village Ice Cream Factory, shows off the star of the shop, an Emery Thompson batch freezer.With limited options for arranging transport of the 720-pound stainless steel machine due to COVID-19, the Webbers rented a box truck and picked it up themselves.

Don Webber said the conquest of purchasing and transporting the machine nearly killed him, literally.

He was injured while trying to lift and move the machine.

"I actually ended up in the hospital," Don Webber recalled, just feet away from the hulking brick of stainless steel that now powers his business.

Despite the mishap, and the challenges of opening a new business amid a pandemic, the shop has seen steady foot traffic so far.

"The thing about restaurants in general and ice cream stores, is restaurants are really struggling because they had to change their business model from eat in, to eat out, to take out," Tracy Webber noted. "For an ice cream store, it's basically takeout anyways, so it's not much different from our (original) business model. People are shut in and they want to go out and do something. Ice cream makes them happy. It gets them out and gives them the flavors they want without spending a lot of money."

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If you go:

What: The Village Ice Cream Factory

Where: 7709 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland

When: 3-8 p.m. Monday through Friday

12-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday


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