I really took one for the team this week.
As much as I'd like to say I earned it with a wild ride on Half Nelson or Rollercoaster, I woke up one morning and lazily rolled out of bed to head over to the new bricks and mortar retail location of Alice + Brohm at the Squamish Town Hub to interview Katie Youwe and Matt Harris — and eat ice fresh fruit ice cream for breakfast. As it turns out blueberry basil soft serve really is the breakfast of champions.
The newest addition at the former On The Farm location is something dreams are made of — if you dream of ice cream that is. And really, who doesn't?
Open every day save Tuesdays, Harris and Youwe are planning a hectic summer between launching their retail shop and running the familiar white and teal boler Squamish residents have come to respond to in the most Pavlovian of ways. (I can't be the only one that starts to salivate when passing a boler on the highway, can I?)
The couple has lived in Squamish for five years, and like many rec fanatics moved here for the lifestyle mountain enthusiasts are drawn too. But it was on a trip back to Harris's native New Zealand that the pair decided Squamish should be turned onto fresh fruit soft serve.
"Living here in Squamish we see things are evolving, and we really wanted to broaden our reach into the community. On a trip home we noticed that there were a lot of these old caravans parked at beaches and in different parts of the community where you could buy ice cream," he said, adding many of them were appendages of small family fruit farms. "They'd have these little pop-up type of things that you could visit after doing an activity with the family. We would always stop for ice cream or a milkshake because it was a good way to finish the day.
"And it's the same thing here, it's a great thing to sit down to, and reflect on everything you've done, after a good ride or other type of activity. And we really like the beauty of meeting people."
The ice cream shop, much like the couple's now infamous boler, was designed and renovated by Harris and Youwe. They purchased a machine called the Little Jem and imported it from Nelson, New Zealand to keep the experience they were after entirely authentic. The space is cozy and comfortable for the duo; they've found themselves living and working in cramped quarters their entire relationship.
"We are very used to living and working in small spaces. Big spaces make us feel uncomfortable," said Youwe, who grew up living and working on organic farms in the Interior.
The new storefront was somewhat of an impromptu decision. It was only in June that they got the inside scoop the unit was coming up for rent. The pair quickly jumped at the chance to grow.
"The lease came up suddenly," Harris said. "It was a month from signing to turning the space around."
"We weren't really planning on opening up retail until maybe next summer or the year after that – but we always had our eye on [this location] ever since we started our business because of the small square footage and the cool mix of shops. This is just a hub of activity and community," added Youwe. "We quickly called the guys in New Zealand and said how fast can you get us another machine? "
The machine arrived within two weeks.
But success to these two is a lot more than just keeping busy and growing their bank account.
"It's more important for us to open something up for the community rather than have a business and get an income from it," said Harris.
"People simply get a lot of satisfaction from just watching the ice cream being made –especially the kids. Their faces just light up!"
There is something intensely satisfying about watching Harris fire up the Little Jem, their secret ice cream weapon. As they scoop in their ice cream — a recipe formulated jointly with Fraser Valley's Birchwood Dairy that boasts a creamy 16 per cent milk fat and no corn syrup or flavouring — the fresh berries give all the taste as the ice cream is augured through the mighty machine.
Youwe says sourcing their supplies as locally as possible was vital.
"We really wanted to support local producers as much as possible and reduce our carbon footprint where ever we can," she said, adding Alice + Brohm uses berries from Neufeld Farms.
"Being able to be at the end of an adventure destination where people crave a sweet treat is something we totally love. People go mountain biking, or what have you, all day and then – even with their kids – come here and treat themselves and talk about the day and recap.
"It's really cool when you can have those conversations with people we've never met, but you feel like you're instant friends," said Youwe, pointing out their shop hours will be afternoons and evenings.
"We're gonna try and go for a bike ride every morning."