(Jonathan Farrell | Sun on the Street) The Plaza’s pink door controversy has been put to rest as new owners Joe and Ramie Hencmann have bought Grandma Linda’s Ice Cream shop, and repainted the front door. What was a scandalous hot pink is now a pale mint green, and the Denver couple can get down to business.
This all started with a dream – and a Google search, where they found Grandma Linda’s Ice Cream shop listed for sale. It has taken more than three months for them to purchase the shop, rebrand and renovate the space to become Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream.
Originally from Denver, Colorado the Hencmann’s have two children, ages two and four. They both wanted to own their own business and be in a community that “would be a good place to raise our kids,” said Ramie. She is the management and business side to “Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream.” Her savvy and intuitiveness created the softer-pastel motif. Ramie knew instinctively that the best way to step into an existing long-standing business is to do so gently. “We just want to provide the best homemade ice cream and a deliciously fresh experience to all our guests,” she said.
Yet at the heart of the endeavor is Joe Hencmann and his passion for making ice cream. “I have been making fresh homemade ice cream for 20 years and I have constantly dreamed of owning my own shop.” Both he and Ramie reassured that the move all the way out to California from the Rockies just to open their own ice cream shop was no short-sighted leap of faith.
“I have family out here in the San Francisco area, so we are not totally alone in this,” said Ramie. She pointed out that as a family with small children, “It seemed like all we were doing was rushing through our lives; trying to do so many things and yet not really following our dreams.”
“With my job in the corporate sector and Joe at the ice cream shop we wanted to own something more than just a home, we wanted to be part of a community and give back to the community we are a part of,” she said.
Back in Denver, Joe’s work at Bonnie Brae Ice Cream allowed him to do something more than just make the best homemade ice cream — he was building community. As Kerry Dougherty, manager of Bonnie Brae explained, “he knew all the regulars and I think he really learned that sense of community while on the job here.”
For almost three decades award-winning Bonnie Brae has dedicated a portion of its proceeds to charity. And, while contributing to worthy causes, Bonnie Brae also provided career and training opportunities to its staff. “Joe started working at the counter serving ice cream. That was back in the 1990s when he was a freshman in high school,” said Dougherty. But it was an unexpected chance of an opportunity that changed his life when someone was needed to help make the ice cream.
“Joe just stepped up and filled in and that is when his passion for making ice cream took off,” added Dougherty. Even after Joe went off to college and then found a full-time job, owners, the owners encouraged Hencmann to stay on, working with his schedule so he could continue to make ice cream part time on weekends.
Dougherty also explained that it is that sense of extended family, along with his strong work ethic and a commitment to quality that Hencmann brings to Sonoma. “Joe is a real hard worker and he always strives to be the best.”
When the Sonoma Sun walked in this past week, the shop at 408 First St. E. was busy with customers and the aroma of fresh- made waffle cones filled the air. “While we are going to be offering fresh sorbet’s, sherbet’s, and gluten-free creations, we just want to bring back the classic and iconic ice cream soda type of shop,” said Ramie.
In keeping with the wine country customs, Sweet Scoops offers “flights of ice cream” – four tiny scoops of any flavor for $6. All of Sweet Scoops creations are original, made fresh and are made with premium ingredients including organic, all natural, and local when available.
“Our most popular right now is my own variation of a butter-pecan favorite we used to serve in Colorado, I call “butter brickle.” Also at present on the menu is a fresh peach made with local organic peaches and for coffee fans, a cappuccino crunch. As a recent visitor said “You can taste when something is made with love, and this ice cream most definitely is!”