By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — The only thing scary about Washington Street’s new ice cream shop is its name.
The Salem Screamery — a play on the saying “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” — opened in early May and has quickly gained a local following.
The screamery scoops more than 30 locally made “standard” flavors, plus six to eight specials they concoct at the shop. Ideas for new flavors, such as chocolate-coffee-bacon, come from customers, shop staff and the owners’ children.
“It’s simple, happy, homemade, chef-inspired ice cream,” said Timothy Hopkins, one of four chefs who own the Salem Screamery.
Their most popular flavors are creme brulee and “graham central station,” a blend of graham crackers, caramel swirl and chocolate bits.
Hopkins and Screamery co-owners Dave Comprosky, Paul TenHope and Alex Kramer, who specialize in catering, switched gears when they decided to purchase the shop at 60 Washington St.
“We just thought we could bring our expertise as chefs into the happy business of ice cream,” Hopkins said. “... Our mantra is sophisticated taste, local ingredients.”
The shop’s former occupant, Ben & Jerry’s, closed in late 2012. Hopkins, who runs a catering kitchen in Essex, said they heard of the vacancy through a friend, Sheila Coffey, who runs an ice cream shop in Marblehead. They bought the space in February.
Hopkins said the four chefs laughed when they realized that all of them worked in their hometown scoop shops as teenagers.
It’s been a family-oriented venture for them. The “screamery” name was the brainchild of one of their children, Hopkins said.
“This is a new challenge and also a business that our children can run one day,” he said.
Business has “exceeded expectations” since opening, Hopkins said. The shop had 800 people come through its doors Aug. 15, when they gave away free ice cream cones to mark a ribbon-cutting with Mayor Kim Driscoll.
They’ve seen a spike in nighttime business with the opening of Opus restaurant across the street, he said.
In addition to the lineup of ice creams, the shop sells sorbet, cupcakes, brownies and cookies.
The screamery has 12 employees; Hopkins said they anticipate employing about 20 at peak season. They’ll probably close for a short break over the Christmas holidays but will otherwise be open year-round, depending on demand, Hopkins said.
This summer, they’ve supplied ice cream for the city’s Scooper Bowl, the Witches Cup bicycle race and ice cream socials for YMCA programs.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.