Merri-Lee Steeves always wanted to own an ice cream shop. Back when she was a little tot, she told her mom she wanted to sell ice cream when she was a “big girl.”
“Apparently I’m a big girl now,” Steeves says with a laugh. After careers in home staging and early childhood education, she opened Harbor Creamery in July in Newburyport, making small-batch ice cream in the town where she grew up.
The cozy shop has a good amount of indoor seating, including an adorable children’s table stocked with the classic Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie book Should I Share My Ice Cream?
Inside space was critical to Steeves since she plans to be open year-round. “I look forward to participating in ‘Invitation Nights’ [an annual downtown holiday shopping event] and all the other special goings on downtown throughout the year.”
A Newburyport native, she’s already formed some strong partnerships with downtown businesses she frequented as a consumer, including a pop-up at Chococoa Baking Co. to make whoopie pie sundaes and providing the filling for ice cream cookie sandwiches at one of Buttermilk Baking Co.’s After Dark events.
“It’s fun to be on the other side,” she says. “It’s exciting to be working with and inspired by other people in the food industry.”
Right now, Steeves is putting in long hours making the unique flavors, using a state-of-the-art Emery Thompson batch freezer and her creative imagination. Popular options include Coffee Crunch – coffee ice cream with toffee and Chocolate Milk & Cookies, a take on the standard Oreo cookie ice cream, but instead of mixing cookies into vanilla ice cream, she adds the crushed cookies in before freezing, resulting in an ice cream that is flavored throughout with chocolaty goodness.
But the biggest innovation thus far? The outlandish “Spaghetti Sunday.” Using a special ice cream press imported from Germany, vanilla ice cream is shaped into strands, then topped with strawberry puree as a stand in for tomato sauce, grated white chocolate mimicking cheese and for the meatball? A Ferrero Rocher chocolate.
The North Shore hasn’t seen anything quite like it… but it’s quickly becoming a favorite.
39 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, 978-255-2440, harborcreamery.com