Charlie Brune shows new sign for an old building (Photo by Eric Mann)
From the beaten path to the eatin' path is what you could call the latest vision of downtown Decatur business owner Charlie Brune and his wife Jean.
The Brunes, who operate Complete Printing Service on Second St., recently branched out into the ice cream field by buying a building less than a half-block away at the corner of Second and Jefferson Sts. that had been Beavers Creamery, an ice cream shop, for several years.
The owner of the Beavers business, Keith Ward, closed it after the 2010 season, but the Brunes got the idea to reopen it as the first part of a move to make downtown "a buy zone" by promoting the city's longtime connection to US highway 27, which once ran right through downtown on Second St..
Ironically, years after US 27 was moved west of downtown to what is 13th St., US 33 still came through on Second until it, too, was moved out when a bypass was built south of the city. The two highways now link up about a mile south of town.
Brune says he and his wife developed the idea to peg local business growth, tourism, etc. to historical relationships with a well-known highway after they spent five or six years making several trips to travel the 2,300-mile Chicago-to-California route of famed Route 66.
Now, he envisions boosting business via US 27, which starts in Michigan and ends in Miami, Florida.
Accordingly, the Brunes' new business will be called The Old 27 Ice Cream Shop and will be open from spring to fall, starting on May 6. The shop will be open on weekends at first, he says, but the hours will eventually be 11 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Perhaps five part-time workers will be employed, he estimates.
Brune says the building, erected in 1921 as Elberson's Service Station, later became Beavers Oil Co. and Rick's Bike Shop and had a few other uses before Ward and his father, Norman, bought the site and started a sign business. The sign firm was moved next door and Keith Ward then created Beavers Creamery, named after the old oil company.
Brune says The Old 27 Ice Cream Shop will offer a varied menu, headlined by numerous ice cream flavors available in cones, sundaes, shakes, cups, etc., plus banana splits, sherbet, and gelato. Also on the menu will be coffee, soft drinks, sloppy joes, hot dogs, nachos, walking tacos, and chicken salad.
Among the amenities will be wi-fi hookups for customers and the opportunity for customers to walk into the building, choose their flavor of ice cream or other items, then eat at outside tables.
Brune hopes the ice cream shop will not only be a boon to people who work downtown and live in Decatur, but also those who walk the Rivergreenway Trail, only a few blocks away, and who shop or do other business downtown.
He says he wants to see more downtown businesses tie into the US 27 connection and refer to the old highway when they advertise to the public.