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Ice Cream Maker Follows in Son's Footsteps

Barbara Kessler recently opened Bluebird Ice Cream in Cross River, using some of her son's recipes from his successful Seattle venture.

It's more common to hear about children following in their parent's footsteps, but in this case, a local mom seems to have been influenced by her son in starting a second career.

"As a teacher, I'm always telling my students how I learn from them, in addition to them learning from me," said Barbara Kessler.

So it was only appropriate that Kessler, a Spanish teacher at the last 13 years, take lessons from her son, Josh, a Ridgefield High School grad and proprieter of Bluebird Microcreamery which has three locations in Seattle, WA.

The younger Kessler started selling ice cream in 2009 and has since earned such accolades as being named by MSN as one of the Top 10 indie ice cream shops in the country. 

His mom, an educator since the 1970s, didn't necessarily want to start over as an ice cream maker. "But eating? I was interested in that," she said.

She loved his ice cream and wanted him to come back east to help. But he was busy opening a second then a third shop within the last three years.

So she decided to open her own place, modeled after his but with her own personal touch. In her store is wall-sized chalkboard she encourages locals to write on—a nod to her background as a teacher. She erases it every few days but new signatures—even conversations between visitors on different days—fill the space quickly, she said. Board games stacked on a shelf invite shop-goers to linger and play.

What she did use were many of his concoctions. "I'm proud to share his recipes," said Kessler, a Ridgefield, CT resident.

Her favorite flavor—and that of many of her customers—is coffee, made using Stumptown coffee, a Portland-based roaster. Kessler said she tries to source local ingredients when she can and obtains all of her milk from a New York dairy farm. And she's created some unique flavors of her own. Horchata, a milky, cinammon flavored ice cream is among the more unusual flavors listed.

Other flavors include vanilla bean, chocolate pretzel and pistachio. The first scoop is $3.75 and additional scoops are $2.00. Kessler makes homemade waffle cones and regular sugar cones are available. Customers can take home a pint for $7.

On the day Patch stopped in, Kessler was unarguably patient with customers—from those who asked for descriptions of many of the almost-20 flavors to have to others who asked for nearly as many samples as there were flavors.

She was also generous with her smallest customers, providing an extra bowl of sprinkles and a demonstration of how to re-dip the cone upside down when the first layer of sprinkles was licked off.

She's still settling in and is working on staffing up for when she returns to teaching this fall.

Until then, locals can find Kessler at Bluebird, 19 North Salem Road, across the street from the Orchard Square Shopping Plaza, from 11:30 - 9:30 p.m. daily.

Jill Bryant August 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Address of shop?
Lisa Buchman August 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Hi Jill, the Bluebird directory listing should be active later today and we'll have a link directly in the article. In the meantime, look for the shop across the street from the Orchard Square, the shopping plaza in Cross River, at 19 North Salem Road. Thanks!

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