UPDATED 7/13 – “We are the neighborhood,” said Kevin Barrett, owner of Dar’s Double Scoop Ice Cream Shop on Rice Street in St. Paul. On a Saturday night, three police officers plus Latino, Hmong, white and black families filled the shop.
Barrett has a large volume of people for businesses along Rice Street accommodating 200 to 400 customers a day. “I don’t make the most money but I have the most people,” said Barrett. “I get frustrated with the media writing bad stories about the Eastside. It is just a handful of people who make trouble. I know many good stories of struggling families. I’ve had only one incident in my shop. I am proud of this area.”
Dar’s Shop opened July 28, 2005 after just three and half months of remodeling. Friends helped come up with the 50s décor idea. “When I am having a hard day, someone will come in and say we are so glad that you are here in the neighborhood,” said Barrett.
“I knew I wanted a family business,” said Barrett. “That crossed diverse neighbors and all barriers.” Ice cream and the North End neighborhood was the answer for his concept of a new business. He said he went up and down Rice Street 50 times before deciding on the 1046 Rice Street location.
The challenge of running a business has been that Rice Street is not a destination for most travelers and food supplies have gone up in price. “My advice for someone wanting their own business is to have a reserve of money for unexpected expenses. There is an up and down to business,” said Barrett. “I worked a fulltime job for three years to keep my ice cream shop going. I didn’t have the heart to raise my prices but did after three years.”
With the upcoming Rice Street Festival, July 27 to 31, Dar’s Ice Cream will sponsor the kickball tournament,the 4th annual car show, and the Hmong queen, Sheila Vang for the festival’s royalty coronation. In the past, Barrett has sponsored boy scouts and badminton teams in the area.
Of 34 to 36 flavors of ice cream, cake/ice cream and black walnut are the most popular. The shop also serves pizza, with the German sauerkraut, sausage and onion being well liked. “I use all of my sauerkraut between hot dogs and pizza,” said Barrett. The complete menu includes Italian sandwiches and hot dogs.
Dar’s Double Scoop hours are 11 to 9 everyday of the week. Stop by 1046 Rice Street or call 651-487-4073
7/13 CORRECTION: Dar’s is in the North End neighborhood.