Before husband-and-wife team Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscina opened their Prospect Heights ice cream parlor Ample Hills Creamery, Smith spent months touring ice cream shops around the city and then New Jersey and Long Island, seeking a gap in the market that he could fill. He soon realized that no shop was making ice cream in-house from beginning to end, and that the idea of parlor-as-gathering-place had gone missing from the landscape. He and Cuscina had thrown ice cream socials with homemade ice cream for years, so they were certain they could deliver on that first identified niche. They ramped up to a pushcart and then a storefront and garnered a cult following of frozen-treat lovers from all over the city, who flock to the shop for wacky flavors like Salted Crack Caramel — a gooey blend of salted butter caramel ice cream and nubs of cookie made with saltines — and Gather 'Round the Campfire, a smoky take on a s'more. That the lines persist even in winter is testament to Smith and Cuscina's fulfillment of the second part of their goal; they've constructed a collective home away from home for their neighbors, who assemble for birthday parties or just after-dinner treats. Ample Hills Creamery has been so successful in its original location that the couple opened a second, much larger establishment in Gowanus in 2014, from which they supply a small fleet of carts and package ice cream in pints for a few local shops.
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