West Central Microcreamery in downtown Fort Wayne is not your average ice cream shop.
Nestled in the heart of the West Central neighborhood on the ground level of the Sheridan Court Apartments, its cozy historic space has tile floors, natural wood details, and picnic tables outside for you to enjoy a socially distant ice cream break during COVID-19. But more than that, you’ll find a destination for made-in-Fort-Wayne small-batch, hand-crafted ice cream that has conducted more than 200 funky flavors since February 2019.
Treat yourself to a scoop of the Barkin’ Up a Tree (cinnamon with cinnamon chip). Or how about a cup of Jazz Hands (raspberry cheesecake with dark chocolate bits)?
"Bittersweet Symphony" is an amaretto chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and a salted caramel swirl.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, West Central Microcreamery
is finding ways to adapt and safely serve its customers, allowing only one group into the small shop at a time to order and providing pints, cups, and lids for carry out.
West Central Microcreamery is the brainchild of Jason Eyanson and his staff, who make, test, and approve all of the flavors onsite. Eyanson took over the small business in 2019, giving it a new business model and, of course, his signature spin on flavors. Sixteen are “on tap” any given day, including 10 regular ice creams and 6 dairy-free and vegan options
Eyanson says serving the health needs of local people and the environment are a large part of West Central Microcreamery’s focus. Their dairy-free and vegan flavors are made with a coconut base, and while they are health-conscious, they come in a variety of fun flavors, too.
A sampling of the flavors at West Central Microcreamery.
Don’t worry if you can’t pick just one. In addition to traditional cones and cups, West Central Microcreamery also offers ice cream flights so you can sample multiple flavors in one sitting.
While the shop temporarily had to do away with their flights due to safety measures during COVID-19, they recently put them back on the menu with new disposable trays made from plant-based, compostable materials.
Eyanson notes that the Micocreamery’s other disposable products are sustainable, too.
Ice cream flights at West Central Microcreamery.
Speaking of caring for environmental and human health, you might be surprised to learn that Eyanson’s professional journey began in physical fitness. He worked as a personal trainer for more than 11 years with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s in sports and exercise psychology, so ice cream was not originally on his mind as a potential career path. But when he was given the chance to acquire the quaint ice cream shop from its former owners, he jumped on it.
“I enjoy the people, and the smiles that come along with serving ice cream,” Eyanson says. “I love the creative outlet of creating the ice cream flavors, as well. Thinking of different flavor combinations and then creating that flavor in ice cream is a lot of fun. As far as the change from personal training, it was a combination of different things. I was looking for a new challenge, and this business opportunity came up at the right time.”
West Central Microcreamery offers vegan and dairy-free flavors in addition to regular ice cream.
While he might not have always seen himself as an ice cream entrepreneur, his natural creativity has proven useful in surprising regular customers with his latest flavor concoctions. Sitting at a small red table in the corner of West Central, with the smell of ice cream and coffee ever-present, he says he likes to brainstorm new ice cream flavors with his staff, looking to various cultures, drinks, and unusual flavor combinations not typically found in ice cream for inspiration.
In short, providing customers with a boutique experience at West Central means giving them flavors they can’t find at the grocery store.
“I want people to try something that they might not have seen or heard of before,” he says. “I want to give them a new flavor experience.”
West Central Microcreamery sells pints of its locally made ice cream.
Beyond sheer creativity and good fun, Eyanson says another motivator for him is to create flavors that don’t require any toppings.
“So much care goes into these flavors that they become the spotlight,” he says. “We don’t need toppings.”
When it comes to flavor suggestions, Eyanson says he welcomes feedback from customers and is always trying to improve upon not only the ice cream, but also the experience at West Central.
“I’m trying to veer away from tradition,” Eyanson says.
West Central Microcreamery also teamed up with Lunar Infusions Kombucha at the Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market to start serving kombucha floats.
Earlier this year, he purchased an espresso machine to begin offering affogatos, an Italian beverage which features several scoops of ice cream topped with shots of espresso. West Central Microcreamery also teamed up with Lunar Infusions Kombucha at the Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market to start serving kombucha floats, which are now available at the shop.
Along with menu additions, another recent manifestation of the Microcreamery’s divergent thinking is the rise of its ice cream tricycle, which has allowed them to pedal their products at outdoor events, like the weekly Ft. Wayne’s Farmers Market on Saturdays downtown.
While Eyanson says his team doesn’t have enough space to make their ice cream available for wholesale yet, it’s something they would like to do eventually. In the meantime, customers can watch for their ice cream tricycle at more events around the area this fall.
“There’s really nothing like it around here,” Eyanson says. “We’re going to be taking it out and about in the next couple weeks, setting up shop at more places around West Central and downtown.”
The West Central Microcreamery tricycle attends Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market each Saturday downtown.
While his sales have been a little slower than usual this summer during COVID-19, things have been steady, and he’s optimistic about the future.
“Given everything that’s happened this year, I feel good about our sales,” he says.
His hope is that customers come back again and again to the ice cream shop, not only for its rotating ice cream flavors, but also for its friendly conversation and atmosphere.
West Central Microcreamery at 725 Union St. is open and offering carry out only during COVID-19. Customers must wear face masks and are asked to enter one group at a time.
2-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
1-9 p.m. Saturday
2-9 p.m. Sunday
for details on the location of their ice cream tricycle.