Craving ice cream? Get your Scoops on
June 6, 2016
Mount Lebanon, Brookline, and Bloomfield share few similarities. Sure, they’re some of Pittsburgh’s most treasured neighborhoods, but their residents, homes, and overarching vibes are poles apart. For most business owners, to launch a storefront in all three areas would be a risky maneuver. Unless, of course, you’re in the business of selling something everyone wants.
This is where longtime Pittsburgh resident Michael Collins comes in. At 15, he began working at a Baskin Robbins on Mount Lebanon’s Beverly Road, where he stayed for nearly eight years in a managerial role. Though the franchise is long gone today, the store remains — and it’s filled with ice cream all the same. Tucked into the suburb’s quaint business district, Scoops on Beverly has been in business for 16 years, ever since Collins claimed the space as his own.
“Baskin Robbins sold [the property] to me when I was 22 or 23,” he says. “It was a lot of work. Who keeps their first job? I guess I do.”
Dishing out 44 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt from various suppliers (Hershey’s, Perry’s, and a third “smaller distributor”), Scoops didn’t take long to become a city staple. The success of Collins’ flagship was so great that the proprietor opened two additional locations in 2010 and 2013, respectively: Brookline’s Scoops on the Boulevard, and Scoops in Bloomfield.
“It’s like three totally different places,” he says of the neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean his storefronts were chosen at random. Not by coincidence, each Scoops store resides within a major business district. “I wouldn’t [open another shop] in a mall or a strip mall because nobody can walk there … I want people to come in and relax and hang out. The store belongs to the neighborhood.”
A Mount Lebanon resident himself, Collins is no stranger to Pittsburgh’s contrasting districts. And, as a true Pittsburgher, he takes pride in offering above-and-beyond service. “I do try to cater to what the neighborhoods … if [the customers] want something [like a certain flavor of ice cream], I can try to adapt to it.”
In Bloomfield, for example, he considers the Italian heritage of “Pittsburgh’s Little Italy” before swapping out any local favorites. Translation: spumoni ice cream, available at the ready (“It is Little Italy”). He says there’s more room for variation in the Brookline and Mount Lebanon shops, since both shops are … well, roomier.
Overall, it appears that demographics don’t play a part in ice cream preference. Across all three stores, Pittsburgh’s ice cream fanatics have voted with their cones. The winning scoop? “Mint chocolate chip,” Collins says. “Crushes it.”
To be fair, we did not see that one coming.