If your New Year’s resolution was to visit the Astoria Column more and eat less ice cream, 2018 is going to be a long year.
Frite & Scoop, which makes and sells French custard ice cream out of a storefront on the Astoria Riverwalk, plans to open a mobile location at the Column in May.
The Friends of the Astoria Column, looking to enhance the experience of the park for locals and tourists, asked six local vendors if they were interested in submitting proposals for serving ice cream. Only Frite & Scoop took the nonprofit up on the offer. The Astoria City Council approved the proposal unanimously at a meeting Monday night.
Swirl, the mobile incarnation of Frite & Scoop, will serve soft-serve ice cream made from scratch, said Kevin Malcolm, who owns the business with his wife, Lisa.
“Soft serve made a lot of sense for us because with the ice cream we make at Frite & Scoop it requires a lot of storage and a lot of freezers,” Lisa Malcolm said. “We don’t have that option at a mobile location.”
The Malcolms also wanted to serve something that would be unique to the Column. They plan to add other concessions including coffee but, as at their brick-and-mortar location, the menu will be limited.
“We like to do a couple things and do them really well,” Lisa Malcolm said.
The City Council did not ask the Malcolms any questions and quickly approved the proposal. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had more of a discussion when Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby broached the subject at a meeting in January.
One board member worried that the parks department could be “opening a can of worms” by allowing vendors in city parks, but it could also be a way to fund parks.
Norma Hernandez, the board chairwoman, said many out-of-town visitors go to the Column once or twice a year, but they still pay $5 for an annual parking pass. Offering more at the Column could be a way to encourage people to linger and help them feel they are getting more of an experience.
The board was concerned about creating a carnival-type atmosphere at the Column, however. Some board members also pointed out that adding another structure on Coxcomb Hill, even a small, mobile ice cream cart, could alter the view. Astoria has beautiful parks and beautiful places, said board member Andrew Fick. “We need to be thoughtful whenever we’re going to start messing with that,” he said.
In their proposal, the Malcolms outlined several ways they plan to minimize the impact of the business. Their cart will be 7 feet tall and 16 feet long and light blue in color “so that it blends in with its surroundings on a sunny day,” they wrote, adding, “We think a primary color would look out of place with the natural beauty of the Column site.”
Instead of using a generator for power, they want to plug into the existing electric grid. “We don’t want to be the source of any noise pollution,” they wrote.