An ice cream parlor, with a twist
The Chocolate Twist has set its soft opening for Feb. 7.
The ice cream parlor, located along Broadway next to Café Steam, is a project of the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester. It will operate as a form of social entrepreneurship, meaning the revenue generated from ice cream sales will help support the nonprofit's mission of serving area youth.
"Our thought was — by having a business that supports us, it would be easier for us to grow knowing we have a steady income that we can rely on," said Claudia Tabini, a longtime board member for the organization.
In addition to bringing in new revenue, the Twist will serve another purpose for the Club: providing job opportunities for area youth. When they are not scooping ice cream, staff will be participating in educational programming focused on how to manage money and run a business.
"The idea of having teens work here is not for us to keep them," said Tabini, who helped lead the effort on the board along with John Pacchetti and Traci Downs. "We want this to be a stepping stone. We want to train them to go out into the bigger world."
With 24 flavors of ice cream to choose from — including some dairy-free options — the Twist promises to breathe life back into the old Paine Furniture building downtown. Jenna Bowman, executive director for the Rochester Downtown Alliance, said she is eager to see the business open.
"This fun, innovative, and forward-thinking business will be a place of vibrancy," said Bowman. "The intentional engagement of young people in the day-to-day operations will be a model to learn and be inspired from."
She added, "Downtown Rochester will be a better place because of The Chocolate Twist." (Her organization recently announced they would be setting up offices under the same roof as the ice cream shop.)
During a recent tour of the space, Tabini said she anticipates the parlor will become a popular meeting spot for groups, regardless of age.
"We want to provide different kinds of interaction," she said, referencing an exhibition set up by the Minnesota Children's Museum featuring life-size board games. "We want this to be a place where you're not rushed; where you feel a sense of community."
To start off, the Twist will offer premium ice cream from the Chocolate Shoppe out of Madison, Wis. Eventually, they plan to expand their offerings to include more frozen and non-frozen treats.
For updates regarding the Twist, make sure to check out its Facebook page. If you are a teen looking to join the staff, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo: Inside the Chocolate Twist / Med City Beat