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Michigan gas station renovated into an ice cream parlor

October 8, 2018

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The ice cream business is a happy business.

That’s what Rico Lewis tells people when they ask about his job. As a co-owner of Scoops Ice Cream in Old Town, he likes to think of his corner shop as a little slice of paradise.

“People come here because they’re in a happy mood,” Lewis told the Lansing State Journal . “That just makes my day.”

To Lewis, the small, renovated filling station is an ideal spot for an ice cream shop. The shop’s unique architecture draws people in, he said, and he often sees cars slow just to get a better look at the eye-catching brick-and-stucco structure.

Brothers Elmer and Benjamin Pulver opened a Sinclair Gas Station at the corner of what’s now Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Capitol Avenue in 1923.

Dale Schrader, the building’s current owner, said the corner station was in a strategic spot in the middle of what was then Grand River Avenue, which connected Detroit and Grand Haven. It operated as a filling station until the 1950s and fell into disrepair shortly thereafter.

Schrader bought the building in 2009 for $25,000. He spent about three times as much renovating it.

The oak panels were removed and stripped of their light blue paint one by one. He recreated the clay tile roof. Schrader also found light fixtures similar to the original ones on eBay and replaced the reconstructed the windows. Overall, the renovation took two years.

“I can’t think of anything else in Lansing like this,” he said.

The renovated shop caught Lewis’ eye a little more than four years ago when he took a different route to his maintenance and repair job at an apartment building. He said he instantly thought the space would make a good ice cream shop.

“When I rode by, it just spoke to me,” he said.

About a month later, Lewis did a U-turn in the street when he saw that the space was empty. He stopped by every day for about two weeks until he found a maintenance person at the property and got Schrader’s contact information. He pitched him the idea for the shop and opened Scoops with co-owner Linda Baughman in April 2015.

Today, there are bright red umbrellas and planters with flowers outside the small, neatly-organized 240-square foot building. There’s a jar of chalk so kids something to do after the initial sugar rush. Every few weeks, Lewis will clean the pavement so children can create new hopscotch designs and self-portraits.

“It’s like being an artist,” he said, “and this is my canvas.”

With fall approaching, Scoops is nearing the end of its season. But Lewis is already working on new ideas for next year. He hopes to host small farmer’s markets and barbecues on the site.

“It’s not a job,” he said. “I love it. It’s a lot of fun.”

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Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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