Downeast Ice Cream Factory gets new owner
Alden, or Al, and Mary Alyce Greene have sold their ice cream parlor in Boothbay Harbor.
The couple has owned and run the Downeast Ice Cream Factory since 1994, and Al Green said 24 years is long enough, though he admitted to having mixed feelings about leaving.
Greene bought the ice cream parlor from David Carmolli, who also owned the Daffy Taffy Factory & Fudge Factory next door. Greene had recently left his job at Bath Iron Works and wasn’t sure what he’d do for the rest of his life, when he got a call from Carmolli, out of the blue.
“I had come home to take care of my dad in ‘92, and after he passed away I was looking for a job. I didn’t want to go back to the Iron Works.” Greene said he thinks of Carmolli’s call as divine intervention from his parents.
Greene had previously owned several cheesecake bakeries in Michigan. He wasn’t new to the business of sweets, so it was an easy transition, he said.
He met and married Mary Alyce White soon after he bought the ice cream parlor. “She went from White to Greene,” he said with a laugh.
The parlor had around 30 flavors then. Now there are 70, including sugar-free and frozen yogurt options. Greene said all 70 flavors sell. Otherwise the couple would have taken them off the menu. “We’re always looking for one we can get rid of,” he said, laughing.
As the name implies, the business is a factory. All the ice cream is made in a large stainless steel ice cream maker in the kitchen.
A large walk-in cooler and even larger freezer were added around five years ago. The cooler is in an addition off the kitchen, and the freezer is on a wharf, on pilings, over the water outside the shop. Greene said the process of obtaining permits for the placement was lengthy, but it’s all good now.
Vanilla is the number one seller, ordered mostly by men and children, Greene said. “When a man orders a vanilla cone and his wife says, ‘Oh, you’re so boring,’ Mary Alyce tells them it’s our best seller.”
Chocolate is the second best seller, and coffee is right up there. “A woman came in around 15 years ago,” he said. “She said she had traveled all over the world, and ours was the best coffee ice cream she’d ever had.” It’s made with coffee, as opposed to the more commonly used coffee-flavored syrup.
Store manager Morgan Bredeau has been with the Greenes for 11 years. She knows all the ins and outs of the ice cream-making business, and one day, out of necessity, she made 35 five-gallon batches of the sweet creamy stuff. “We kept running out of flavors,” she said.
"I molded her into the woman she is today,” Greene joked. Bredeau has mixed feelings about the Greenes' departure. "It’s not going to be the same without them here. I don’t want them to leave this town.”
The well-known and respected owners may be leaving, but the ice cream will remain the same. New owner Bob Bua said he won’t be making any changes in the parlor. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Bua took ownership May 1. “We were trying to find the right person for the business,” Greene said. “Everything will stay pretty much the same, especially the ice cream.”
Bua is from Massachusetts and has a home in Boothbay Harbor. He has always wanted an ice cream shop in a tourist location. “I knew this was an exceptional ice cream factory. After I met Al and Mary Alyce I realized that what they had done was so great, I want to preserve and continue the legacy.
“We don’t want to stop, and start something new here. It’s all about someone who shares the same philosophy of making the best homemade ice cream at ideally the best price in town. It’s about continuing the legacy that Mary Alyce and Al started 24 years ago.
“That’s my commitment to maintaining this place, and learning from Al. He and Mary Alyce are my mentors, and there’s a great existing staff. I’m learning from the experts. This is an ice cream shop, but it’s really a happiness store. People come in happy, and they leave happy, and that’s what I want to be around for the rest of my life.”
Bua plans to spend much of the summer here with his wife Sarah and their teen-aged children, Griffin and Cecily.
The Greenes have spent many winters in Arizona, where they have a home. They started a second ice cream parlor there and recently sold it. They will move to Arizona now, but don’t be surprised if you see their familiar faces in the Downeast Ice Cream Factory this summer. Old habits die hard.
The parlor is located at 1 By Way, Pier 1.