BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — With almost the whole of summer ahead, it’s the perfect time for ice cream lovers to visit a local shop for a special, frozen treat.
Jacky’s Depot, located at 130 W. Dudley St. in Maumee, is known for a few special treats, owner Jason Mendelsohn said. The shop has homemade, hand-dipped ice cream along with vegan ice cream, soft serve and fresh pops.
“I think what we’re primarily known for is having really good, homemade ice cream,” Jason said. “We make all of our own homemade, hand-dipped ice creams. Anything you get out of the dip case, the hard stuff, we make here in-house.”
According to Jason, the government regulates what qualifies as ice cream versus a frozen dairy dessert. Ice cream must contain at least 10 percent, by volume, butterfat. It is then labeled as regular, premium or super premium. Super premium contains 14- to 16-percent butterfat.
“Our base mix is 15-percent butterfat, so it’s considered super premium ice cream,” Jason said. “We get our base mix from a local dairy in Monroe. They deliver our base mix and then we add the ingredients that we use to make the ice cream, and for the most part, all of the recipes we still use were designed and tested by Jacky.”
Jacky and Marty Pauken opened Jacky’s Depot in 1986. They hired several students over the years to work at the seasonal shop, and one of them was Aimee, Jason’s wife.
“This was my wife’s first job in high school. She started working here in 1995,” Jason said.
Aimee later left for college but returned to the shop as a manager in the summers after she started teaching. In 2008, Aimee and Jason bought the shop and the two began a new phase there.
This year is their 14th season as owners, and they’ve done their best to stick to the basics that Jacky and Marty established more than three decades ago; however, they have added some new things along the way.
“About 10 years ago, we started making gourmet ice pops. They’re all made with fresh fruit and organic cane sugar,” Jason said. “There’s nothing artificial, no preservatives in them.”
The gourmet ice pops have been a popular addition to the shop’s menu and are used in the portable carts the staff takes out to local places like farmers’ markets and school events.
Fresh pops are created using as much local fruit as possible, and flavors are created to please both children and adults, including watermelon, strawberry, cucumber lime and blackberry honey lavender.
The flavors are limited to what fresh fruit is widely available – berries at the beginning of the season, stone fruit later on – but each flavor is crafted to please. Just like the fresh pops, vegan ice cream was created to please even more people.
“In the last couple of years, we introduced a vegan version of our homemade ice cream. It’s made with a coconut and oat milk base,” Jason said. “The recipe has gone through a couple revisions, and we’ve finally found one we really like.”
Lactose-intolerant customers or those following a vegan diet can enjoy the ice cream on its own or as part of a sandwich or sundae.
“We have partnered with a local vegan bakery – Vegan Taste. They make all of our cookies for our vegan ice cream sandwiches,” Jason said. “They also provide other baked goods, like a gluten-free, vegan brownie.”
The shop has also expanded to two dip cases, one for the original ice cream flavors and one for the vegan flavors. The expansion means there are now five vegan ice creams on hand, along with five specialty flavors of the regular ice cream and more common flavors, too.
The different offerings are a simple way for Jacky’s Depot to remain a popular summertime destination for people year after year.
“We take great pride in offering a quality product to the neighborhood and trying to cater to a lot of dietary needs,” Jason said. “We have a lot of people who are lactose-intolerant or vegan and they want to have something that’s not just a slush. We want to offer them something that’s full of flavor and is delightful.”
Handing over the tasty treats and seeing the delight in people’s faces is Jason’s favorite part of the job.
“There’s a look in people’s eyes when you’re about to hand them an ice cream cone that I love. It’s that look of unmitigated joy,” Jason said. “You see it mostly in kids, but there are a few adults that still have it. They just love ice cream and I love that. Their eyes get bright and it’s fantastic.”
To experience the small pieces of joy Jacky’s Depot has to offer, customers can visit the shop at the corner of West Dudley and Allen streets in uptown Maumee from noon to 10:00 p.m. every day.
The store is also always accepting applications from ice cream lovers who want to help spread the joy around.
“We’re always looking for people. The ideal candidates are at least 15-1/2 years old and like ice cream,” Jason said. “My employees are awesome. They’re a fantastic group of young people. A lot of times, it’s their first job and they’re nervous. It’s great to see them build confidence, learn skills and have a great time here.”
Those interested are welcome to visit the ice cream shop from now until mid-October.