Bluebird Microcreamery will officially open in Phinney Ridge this Friday. The ice cream shop on the corner of Greenwood Avenue North and North 74th Street had its ice cream cart out in front of the store for much of the summer, whetting people’s appetites for its locally produced ice cream.
Josh Reynolds started Bluebird on Capitol Hill about 2-1/2 years ago. Bluebird is also opening up a small ice cream shop in Fremont soon.
Bluebird works with local farmers and businesses for all its ingredients, including CB’s Nuts in Kingston for its peanut butter ice cream, Elysian Brewery, Caffe Vita, and Theo Chocolates.
“It’s a cool cultural thing to play on each other’s strengths,” Reynolds said.
Bluebird will eventually replace the front windows with a garage door, just like neighboring Caffe Vita and Cornuto, and will extend the back porch to connect with those two businesses. Bluebird also will eventually have a door straight into Caffe Vita (you can see the old doorway is already framed in on Caffe Vita’s side, where the condiment station is, and Reynolds said the door is already framed inside the drywall on Bluebird’s side). Reynolds said he has a good working relationship with both businesses, and all three businesses want to work together to make everyone successful.
When I stopped in for a sneak peek last Wednesday, Reynolds and Store Manager Ashleigh Byrne were busy cleaning as the last bit of construction finishes up. Reynolds was happy to find the building’s original hardwood floors under layers of laminate during construction.
Store Manager Ashleigh Byrne (left) and Owner Josh Reynolds (right) discuss remaining construction details last Wednesday.
Bluebird passed its King County Department of Health inspection last Thursday, and its Department and Planning & Development inspection on Monday.
A few tables will be placed up front by the windows, and there will be counter seating on the north wall. A floor-to-ceiling blackboard will announce daily flavors, which usually numbers about 12. Reynolds said there are usually six or seven flavors that remain day-to-day, and others come and go with the season or their own whims.
He said one of their past flavors, Peanut Butter and Jelly, was created when the 10-year-old son of a neighboring toy store on Capitol Hill suggested it. When Reynolds said the kid could just get a scoop of peanut butter and a scoop of marionberry ice creams, the boy patiently explained that if they swirled it together, it would sell better.
“We do take flavor suggestions,” Reynolds said with a smile.
Bluebird currently makes all of its ice cream at its Capitol Hill shop, but it’s outgrowing the space, so Reynolds plans to eventually move production to the back room of the Phinney Ridge store.
“Eventually we’re going to use that space and put in a big window so you can see ice cream being made,” he said.
Bluebird also will produce its own craft sodas and beer there. They’ll have traditional ales plus their own fun brews, like a Chocolate Stout or Coconut Porter, and they’ll fill growlers as well as use the beers and sodas (such as sarsaparilla, root beer and cream soda) for ice cream floats.
Bluebird will make shakes with its 1950s Hamilton Beach milkshake machine in vintage sea foam green.
“The look of (the shop) isn’t trying to be retro, but I definitely like old classic things,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds demonstrates the vintage milkshake machine. The floor-to-ceiling chalkboard is on the left, and the wall above the sinks in the back will eventually be replaced with windows so patrons can see ice cream being made in the back room.
Reynolds got into the ice cream business because so many people told him his homemade ice cream was so good that he could sell it. Reynolds was previously a teacher and the director of an outdoor environmental center in upstate New York. When the economy collapsed in 2008 and real estate prices fell, Reynolds saw an opportunity to start his business and found his space on Capitol Hill.
He said ice cream is an indulgence, but a small one that people can easily justify. And he’s happy to put in the hours to make his business successful.
“It’s not been an overnight success…but it’s been heading in the right direction for two years. I’ve lost a bunch of weight working in an ice cream shop,” he said with a laugh. “I’m working every day.”
Bluebird’s hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. to start, but will change depending on the neighborhood’s tastes.