A few weeks ago my PR work took me to Portland, MI, a quaint and friendly small town between Grand Rapids and Lansing, just off Interstate 96. I had a tip the Chocolate Moose ice cream parlor and sandwich shop downtown was a good choice for the 250 root beer floats and hot dogs needed a corporate event. But I didn’t know the Chocolate Moose made its own ice cream. Or how fantastic it is.
Several years ago Tom and Jamie Saint Amour traded city life in Detroit for the more rural setting of Portland. They were after a slower pace and more time to concentrate on their two young children. Tom took a job in maintenance and Jamie settled in at home with the kids. In 2008 they started a nonprofit transportation company called Old Skool to give lifts to seniors, disabled and low income persons in the community.
During the summer of 2016 they opened the Chocolate Moose. “We were looking for something to do as a family,” explains Jamie, shown in the feature photo at the top. But Tom and Jamie weren’t satisfied with just selling premium ice cream purchased from a distributor or manufacturer. So they found a commercial sized ice cream maker and Tom taught himself how to operate it. They enlisted Country Dairy in New Era, MI, to supply milk and Jamie started experimenting with flavors and concoctions.
The Chocolate Moose’s ice cream starts with a vanilla base. Candies, nuts, syrups and even boxed cake mixes are blended in to give birth to the 72 flavors they now sell. “There have been some failures but we keep at it,” Jamie explained.
Traditional favorites like Chocolate and Butter Pecan are sold along with more inventive ones like Blueberry Cheesecake, Caramel Apple Pie, Orange Pecan, Chocolate Cake Batter, and Snickerdoodle. “Sometimes our customers give us ideas and we try them,” Jamie said. You can also get vegan and lactose free ice cream.
Before I left town I swung by the shop to say thanks to Jamie for the great catering. And even though it was about 9 AM, I couldn’t resist a single scoop cone (chocolate chip cookie dough) when Jamie offered one for the road. Trust me, a cone from the Chocolate Moose is a treat not to be missed if you are in central Michigan. For more information, visit the Chocolate Moose’s Facebook page or call 517-526-9100.
I just had to ask about musical tastes for the Saint Amours and found that the favorite family jam is Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Tom a classic country fan but Jamie prefers 80s and 90s favorites like Rod Stewart, Journey and George Michael. Son Cameron is an AC/DC fan and daughter Allie likes Walk the Moon’s Shut Up and Dance. I created a playlist just for them over at Spotify:
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