Not-so-sweet news: Lindenwald's Sweden Creme won't open this season
All winter long, people across the Tri-State dream of the return of a summer classic — the local ice cream shop. These purveyors of sweet treats serve up cones, shakes, banana splits and more. They have lots of names: Dairy Bar, Creamy Whip; in Hamilton's Lindenwald neighborhood, Sweden Creme has been filling the bill for decades, but this summer won't be so sweet.
Round, blue, metal tables sit empty, sweetgum balls gathering around their bases; their cheery sun umbrellas conspicuously absent. The chalkboard on the small building just north of Lindenwald's historic business district still reads "Last Day September 19."
It may turn out to be prophetic.
Fans of the neighborhood creamy whip and burger stand have been clamoring for the seasonal shop to reopen for nearly two months. Hopes sank Monday when Sweden Creme's Facebook page posted this message: "Sweden Creme will not open this season. It was a tough decision but necessary one. Our deepest apologies to all of our loyal customers who stood by us."
"What? They're not opening? I didn't know that was closing down," gasped a surprised Mace David Monday afternoon after hearing about the announcement. "Where we going to get ice cream from?"
"Oh, lord," he added, shaking his head.
David was chatting with Ashley Neal outside her car detailing shop just down the street. The announcement was the talk of the neighborhood.
"I was really sad because, first of all, I'm a pregnant woman and I need that ice cream," Neal said with a laugh. "My kids love it. We just went (by) there the other day and then we heard the sad news today. They need to open — I don't understand why they're not opening.
"This week would have been perfect for them," she added, noting the increasingly warm temperatures during the second week of May.
Sweden Creme opened in 1950 and has been a family owned business for years, though it's changed hands several times. Current owner Teddy Young bought it a few years ago, telling the Journal-News he had big plans for expanding to a second location.
He couldn't be reached for this story.
On top of the usual ice cream treats, people came from all over town for the famous Dixie Burger with its sautéed onions and steamy bun topped with mustard and a pickle. It's a recreation of a White Castle-style burger popularized by a former neighborhood burger joint.
Stu Owens lives in neighboring Fairfield; a friend said he had to try the burgers. He and his wife tried to stop by for lunch Monday, shortly after the Facebook announcement.
"I've never had it," he said "(My friend) said there was a business that had (the Dixie burger) that went out of business and that these people finally got the right recipe... and that it was really good."
With their lunch plans scrapped, they drove off toward the center of Lindenwald to find somewhere else to eat.
Immediately next door, David Smith owns Perfectly Blended Barber Shop. He was one of the first to share Sweden Creme's announcement Monday, noting a lot of his clients had been asking when the shop would open for the season.
"At least once a day, without a doubt, I get somebody asking me when they're going to open up, or I see somebody outside and I have to tell (them) that they're not open yet and I'm not sure when (they will be). We're kind of disappointed because that usually fed us at least two or three times during the week," he said.
"I'm a little disappointed to hear they're not going to open. Regardless, I hope either they're able to work something out or somebody else is able to get it and open it up. I really would like to see that place open back up again. It's been a staple in this community for as long as I can remember."
Sweden Creme's owners gave no reason for the decision, nor did they offer any clues about the shop's future.
The reaction online has been overwhelmingly disappointed. Several people would like to see the business sold to someone who will reopen it quickly.
"Sweden Creme does hold something special for me," James Brown tells WVXU in a voice message. "It was the first place my daughter and me used to go to eat ice cream when she was little. The owner was always so nice... We tried to be the first ones there at the start of this season and we always tried to be the last ones there at the end of the season."
"We'll definitely miss it," he says, adding hopefully Sweden Creme will be back so they can continue making memories.