An innovative new ice cream parlor, "I Scream Sundae," is attracting dessert fanatics to Ripley, where the rural small-town atmosphere was parlor-ready.
Banking on the lyrics of the zany 1927 song Ice Cream ("I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream!"), the business is building a menu based on screamingly funny puns and a spooky family atmosphere.
The business is already attracting visitors off I-77, though it only opened in midsummer, and is having an economic impact, according to Mike Ruben, executive director of the Ripley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It's proving to be a destination-type location that is also attracting visitors to other businesses in the Ripley community," Ruben said.
Owner Charessa Wilkinson says the quality of the ice cream and the family atmosphere is really what's important, though the screamy theme is helping draw customers from 30-or-more miles away.
“It’s a destination experience," Wilkinson says, "and we’re seeing customers from the Kanawha Valley and from Ohio, too.”
The décor resembles that of a haunted house "with an interior decorator," she says.
Retro movie posters adorn the walls, and table decorations include plastic skulls alongside napkins, though Wilkinson says the imagery never reaches beyond what would be reasonably appropriate for a family with young children.
In fact, the business was designed for families and was literally built to provide employment for area youth, she said
"We wanted to provide something for local kids, but we ended up creating something that's become enormously popular beyond what we expected."
The selection of sundaes, floats, and milkshakes is an ever-evolving process for the innovative staff. Treat suggestions have also been generated by enthusiastic customers. New for fall, for instance, is “The Pumpkin Eater.”
“It’s all about enjoying the experience,” said Wilkinson, who is a partner in the adjacent Sold Sisters Realty. Also, she’s gearing up for the second Halloween season with her nearby “Go-Go Scare Show,” a non-traditional haunted house.
I Scream Sundae is located at 516 W. Main Street in Ripley, one mile from I-77 exit 138. Ripley is a drive of approximately 40 miles from Charleston, West Virginia, to the south, and Parkersburg, West Virginia, to the north. Call 304-532-4230 for information.