Mitchell’s Ice Cream will be an eye-catching centerpiece for the Van Aken District, and a wonderful place to hang out and enjoy Mitchell’s beloved local product.

By Diana Simeon

Scoops of Mitchell's Ice Cream in cups

When Pete and Mike Mitchell were deciding where to open their first ice cream shop in the late 1990s, Shaker Heights was at the top of their wish list. The brothers grew up in University Heights and spent a lot of time in Shaker.

“We used to go to restaurants there. One of my favorite sporting goods stores [Newman-Stern] was there,” recalls Pete Mitchell. “We’d go to the ice cream parlor [Draeger’s] for hot fudge sundaes.”

But at the time, the Mitchells struggled to find a space that met their needs. “So we opened our first shop in Cleveland on the West Side,” says Mitchell. “But even from before that date, we really were hoping to find what we thought would be an ideal spot in Shaker Heights.”

Turns out, that ideal spot is the Van Aken District, where Mitchell’s Ice Cream will open its 10th Cleveland-area location this summer.

“It’s taken us over 18 years, says Pete. “But we’re thrilled.”

Pete and Mike Mitchell of Mitchell's Ice Cream

Pete and Mike Mitchell

The Van Aken District offered the Mitchells the opportunity to build a new, stand-alone ice cream shop in the middle of Shaker’s new downtown. The shop’s site is on the corner of two new streets in the District, Walker and Tuttle roads, and faces the District’s “living room,” a public green space in the center of the development. Ample parking, accessibility, public space, and a retail mix that emphasizes the local – and independent – also influenced the Mitchells’ decision to open in the District.

“Shaker has always supported independent, community-based destinations and businesses and that’s how we view ourselves,” says Mitchell. “Even though we’ve grown over the years, we still think of ourselves as a small Cleveland company.”

Indeed, every batch of Mitchell’s ice cream is still handcrafted at its Ohio City Kitchen & Shop, using locally sourced ingredients – including milk, cream, eggs, fruit, and more – whenever possible (learn more at mitchellshomemade.com).

Meanwhile, the Van Aken District provided Mitchell’s with another appealing opportunity: to take the company’s sustainable building practices to the next level.

“We’re excited this is going to be our first LEED certified building,” says Mitchell. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system.

The building was designed by Dimit Architects, the Cleveland-area firm that collaborated with Mitchell’s on the renovation of the historic Rialto Theater on West 25th Street in Ohio City, a project that also prioritized green practices. That location opened in 2014 and now serves as the Mitchell’s flagship ice cream shop, production facility, and headquarters. Dimit has also designed shops for Mitchell’s in Beachwood, Solon, Avon, and the Uptown District.

“In every aspect of the Van Aken building’s design, we’ve kept sustainability in mind,” says Mitchell.

That even includes most of the furniture. “It’s made from recycled materials – wood or steel – and most of it is made in Cleveland,” says Mitchell.

When it opens later this summer, the Mitchell’s shop – which Plain Dealer architecture critic Steve Litt described from renderings as “sleek, glassy and very likable-looking” – is sure to be an eye-catching centerpiece for the District.

But it also promises to be a wonderful place to hang out and enjoy some of Mitchell’s beloved – for good reason, it’s awesomely delicious – ice cream.

“Most people really love ice cream,” says Mitchell. “It’s always neat to see people from varied backgrounds coming together.”

A rendering of Mitchell's as envisioned at the Van Aken District.

A rendering of Mitchell’s as envisioned at the Van Aken District.

Expect the shop to be especially popular during the warm weather, not just because of what’s on the menu. “Several large doors will be kept open during those months,” says Mitchell. “The flow and the feel will join the inside and outside space together.” The outside space includes a landscaped patio that will blend into the District’s living room. There will be plenty of seating both inside and out.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s involvement in the community won’t begin and end at the Van Aken District. To the contrary, the company is well known for its support for the communities in which it operates.

“We try to be involved in a helpful way,” says Mitchell. Often that includes schools, libraries, youth sports, and other community organizations. Mitchell’s also plans to hire locally.

“When the Van Aken District is done, there are going to be so many interesting places to bring people from Shaker Heights and other communities together,” says Mitchell. That includes some of his own local favorites, like Rising Star Coffee and Urban Orchid (which provides flowers to Mitchell’s ice cream shops).

“We’re excited to be part of it.”

Originally published in Shaker Life, Summer 2018