Read the full article at Boston.Forward.com
What do we all scream for when it’s hot outside? Ice cream!
And now, thanks to the community-minded husband and wife team of Wendy and Alan Issokson, there is a fun new place to get it.
Located on the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Park Street, just one block from the Fields Corner T station in Dorchester, is Chill on Park.
So how does a nice couple from the ‘burbs get so involved in Dorchester?
“My great-grandfather opened a men’s haberdashery on Dorchester Avenue,” Alan explained, “and then my grandfather established H. Levenbaum Insurance here on Fields Corner in 1923, and we have been here ever since!” When part of the family’s building became available, Wendy (who had previously worked in the criminal justice system and was looking for another positive way to support others who may be at risk) decided to try her hand at scooping, and to invite others from the area to help her put the proverbial cherry on top.
“It has given her a chance to mentor [neighborhood] kids,” Alan says of his hard-working wife, “and to set the foundation for future employees and hopefully college.”
In addition to providing sweet sustenance and special space for the neighbors and others (especially on “Family Night Tuesdays” in July and August and at a pair of special “Ice Cream Socials” on August 4 and September 1, at which guests can enjoy extra-special discounts and surprises), Chill also offers many employment opportunities. Working with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester and the Louis Brown Peace Institute, the Issoksons give area kids a job and a chance to learn skills and improve their own lives and those of their families
“The teens and young adults that are on our team have been essential to our early successes,” Wendy observes. “For many of the kids, this is their first job,” Alan noted. “You cannot minimize the impact of having a first successful job!”
For anyone who comes in, the hand-drawn decorations and upscale reclaimed wood décor make Chill inviting and comfortable for the diverse community.
“We had a vision,” Alan explained, “of a young and fresh, but homey and classy place. Like a renovated Victorian home in the neighborhood.” On the main chalkboard wall, words like “community” and “faith” reveal the values behind and throughout the shop.
“We want to be part of the fabric of the community,” Alan says. “We want people to feel that this is their place.”
Chill also gives locals a taste of other neighborhoods in the area by bringing in food items from Sudbury, Watertown, Roslindale and Roxbury, among other communities.
“I am really proud of what Alan and I have created here,” Wendy said. “I am excited about the space and the local products that we serve…. Since I haven’t run an ice cream shop before, it is a big learning curve for me. It is all coming together thanks to to the staff and community.”
In order to further strengthen the community connection, Chill regularly hosts corporate events, parties, and other gatherings. They also hope to sponsor neighborhood sports teams in seasons to come, just as the family insurance business has for generations.
“We hope to become a neighborhood destination where families and friends can gather,” said Wendy.
While their goals may be lofty, the Issoksons are already proving that such dreams can come true and are well aware of the base flavor that will make their new scoop shop shine. “At the end of the day,” Alan muses, “you scoop it, put it in a cup, and get a smile… on both sides of the counter!”