Rhea’s Ice Cream will remain open, with new management, after the ice cream shop’s owner declared the business would close back in April.
Lindsey Belk, Root Cellar assistant manager, said he and the restaurant have teamed up to buy the shop, which has been a part of The Square for five years. In April, Rhea Ortamond, owner of Rhea’s Ice Cream, announced she would be closing the shop this month to move to Chicago.
Ortamond said she originally had no plans to accept offers to buy the shop, but something felt right about Belk’s proposal.
“It was all about a feeling,” Ortamond said. “This shop is really personal to me, and I wasn’t going to sell it just to sell it. It had to feel right for me.”
Belk said the overwhelming community support for the shop inspired him to keep it open.
“I found out that Rhea was leaving, and that she wasn’t going to sell,” Belk said. “When talking about the ice cream shop and seeing the sadness on the entire town’s face, I was like, ‘This can’t really go away.’”
Lindsay Adair, Rhea’s Ice Cream employee, said she is excited to see The Root Cellar keep the shop alive.
“The guys at The Root Cellar are awesome,” Adair said. “I’m going to miss Rhea the most. It’s bittersweet, but I’m excited for her and I’m excited to see what the guys do at the shop.”
Belk said Ortamond has been teaching him how to make her unique ice cream flavors.
“Rhea is a spectacular human,” Belk said. “She’s a great teacher, and really patient. The ice cream shop has been her baby forever and it is really sweet to have her teach me.”
Belk said he is eager to take on the project, and hopes to eventually integrate Root Cellar Bakery foods into the store.
“I have a lot of great ideas and I’m excited,” Belk said. “I will keep the Flavor of the Month and suggestion box, and I also want to include Rhea and have her help with the recipes.”
Ortamond said she currently has no plans to open an ice cream shop in Chicago.
“I’m kind of just moving to Chicago for a new adventure,” Ortamond said. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do yet, but I’m not going to jump into anything.”
Belk said he is excited to own his first business.
“I’m not afraid because I’ve gone into business with some of the best businesspeople I’ve met in my entire life,” Belk said. “Everyone that works at The Root Cellar is amazing and having them is very comforting.”
Fans of the ice cream shop can stop by June 28 for Rhea’s last day and $1 scoops.