Craving ice cream? Get your Scoops on
Mt. Lebanon, Brookline, and Bloomfield share few similarities. They’re some of Pittsburgh’s most treasured neighborhoods, sure — but their residents, homes, and overarching vibes are poles apart. For most independent business owners, launching a storefront in all three of these areas would be a risky maneuver. Unless, of course, you’re a business owner who’s offering something everyone wants — demographics aside.
Enter Michael Collins: longtime Pittsburgh resident and staunch believer in the healing power of ice cream. At 15 years old, he began working at a Baskin Robbins on Mt. Lebanon’s Beverly Road, where he stayed for nearly eight years in a managerial role. Today, though the franchise is long gone, the shop 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,” says Collins. “That’s when I bought it. 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 three different suppliers — Hershey’s, Perry’s, and “a third smaller distributor” — Scoops on Beverly didn’t take long to become a neighborhood staple. The success of Collins’ flagship was so great, in fact, that the proprietor opened two additional locations in 2010 and 2013, respectively: Scoops on the Boulevard (in Brookline), and Scoops in Bloomfield (on Liberty Avenue).
“Very different,” Collins says of his three locations. “It’s like three totally different places.” Still, despite their dissimilarities, these residential hot spots have more than ice cream in common.
“All three stores are in a business district — but in a neighborhood,” Collins explains. “I wouldn’t [open another shop] in a mall or a strip mall because nobody can walk there. It’s not my style. I want people to come in and relax and hang out. I want people in Brookline and Mt. Lebanon and Bloomfield to be like, ‘We’ve got this great ice cream store…’ because it’s their store. The store belongs to the neighborhood.”
A Mt. 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,” he says. “Every store is slightly different.”
At Scoops in Bloomfield, for example, Collins considers the traditional 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.
In Brookline and Mt. Lebanon — where Scoops’ square footage is notably larger than that of the Bloomfield store — Collins says there’s more room for variation. But across the board, Pittsburgh’s ice cream fanatics have voted with their cones. The winning scoop?
“Mint chocolate chip,” says Collins. “Crushes it.”
Don’t worry. We didn’t see that one coming, either.
Scoops on Beverly / 311 Beverly Road / Mt. Lebanon
Scoops on the Boulevard / 719 Brookline Blvd. / Brookline
Scoops in Bloomfield / 4806 Liberty Ave. / Bloomfield