Three unique treats

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Dairy Queen, Cold Stone Creamery, Baskin-Robbins, Maggie Moo’s. The list of ice cream shops could go on forever, but what about the small, family-owned parlors that compete with these franchise giants? They’re still around and business is booming.

Whether it’s a passed down family heirloom or just a shop inspired by the love for the delicious summer treat, they all share the same dedication for the business.

One of the most well known shops near downtown Royal Oak is Ray’s Ice Cream.

Owner Tom Stevens took over the business from his father, Dale, who inherited it from his parents Raymond and Bernice before him. The shop originally opened in 1958.

“Our last name was already used by another dairy up in Saginaw,” Stevens said. “So my dad decided to name it after his grandpa.”

With black and white checkered floors, bar stools wrapping around an original soda bar, and the giant ice cream sundae in the window the shop itself is a step back in time.

The vintage décor might draw in a wandering eye, but the original slow churned ice cream keeps the community coming back for more.

“We’ve maintained our recipe too since we’ve been here, you know, we use a very high butterfat and natural ingredients,” Stevens said.

Ray’s offers a menu of over 40 different flavors of ice cream, anywhere from peanut butter banana, deemed the “Fat Elvis” to a more unique flavor of ice cream, Cinnamon. The originals like Vanilla, Chocolate and Superman can still be found on the menu for those who love to keep it simple.

North of Ray’s, Grandma’s Ice Cream Parlor in Holly can easily be seen from the road in a bright pink farmhouse.

Featuring the well-known Cook’s Dairy ice cream, Grandma’s has been a place for fun since 1984 when Nick Nichols purchased the building, along with having Oakhaven farm close by.

“When I was growing up my dad loved ice cream, and as a kid I also loved ice cream.” Nichols said. “On the fourth of July I used to have Cook’s come over as just kind of an experiment to see how ice cream would sell [at the shop’s location].”

Cook’s most popular flavors featured at Grandma’s are Blue Moo (a Cook’s version of the Blue Moon) Moosetracks and Holy Cow.

Along with selling top of the line ice cream, Nick and Pam are looking to put out their produce from the farm on the weekend to help boost business.

“We’re going to open our vegetable stand again.” Nichols said. “We’ve always been known for our great corn. Everything else is great, but the corn is the greatest.”

With fall quick approaching the Nichols family also offers fun things to do around their farm. Pumpkin picking, a petting zoo and a corn maze and even piles of hay provide different fun choices for families.

Even farther north is the small town of Hadley (just outside of downtown Lapeer) where John Wallace, owner of The Parlour tends to his ice cream shop and pizza place.

Also coated in pastel pink paint, The Parlour offers the best of the Michigan’s own Ashby’s Ice Cream and their own shop-made pizzas, calzones, pasta and salads.

“We originally bought it [the shop] in the early ’90s,” Wallace said. “My wife ran it for a long time, about eight years and we ended up selling it in 2000 (and I) reopened it about four years ago.”

The parlour is now a year-round business with many growing beyond ice cream to offer many different sorbets, sundaes, shakes and malts to choose from.

“We buy our ice cream from Ashby’s, a Michigan company. They have about 60 flavors,” Wallace said. “We keep a lot of the normal flavors and then just rotate through some of the other ones.”

With the most popular flavors appealing to kids, like Superman and Blue Moon, the adult flavors like Butter Pecan, Cookie Dough and the original Vanilla are maintaining their popularity.

The slogan, “Peace, Love, & Ice Cream” printed on the shops sign, and also on T-shirts adorning the walls inside makes this parlor a fun place to discover off the beaten path.

With many ice cream shops out there to choose from, these are only a few of the privately owned parlors in the area.

Each one has something to offer something. Always reasonably priced, one can order a single scoop of any flavor with a waffle cone for about $3.00 at any of the these locations

Ray’s Ice Cream, 4233 Coolidge Hwy, Royal Oak

Grandma’s Ice Cream Parlour, 14586 Dixie Hwy, Holly

The Parlour, 3527 Hadley Road, Metamora