Ice cream wars: Steve has nothing to do with Steve's
But the latest Steve's Ice Cream is going too far, Judy Herrell continued in an interview with Universal Hub. As that New York-based venture prepares to open up shop in Somerville, it's unfairly playing up a connection to Steve Herrell that doesn't exist, she says.
Steve Herrell has had absolutely nothing to do with the new venture - which bought up the "Steve's Ice Cream" name from whoever owned it after the last Steve's closed in 2006 - and he still retains ownership of the original ice-cream formulas the helped make his little shop in Davis Square a smushing success in the 1970s.
"It's really upsetting to us," she said. It's particularly annoying because the Herrells are planning their own return to the Boston area, where the last Herrell's closed in 2009.
Judy Herrell pointed to things such as the new company's Get to Know Us page, which features a photo of the original shop and begins:
In 1973 Steve's revolutionized American ice cream in Somerville, Massachusetts by custom-blending flavors by hand as customers watched, mixing-in candies, cookies, fruits and nuts in utterly original and personalized combinations. Steve's pioneered the craze for funky mix-in flavors that transformed ice cream in America.
"It's not nice to have your identity stolen," she said. If that venture wants to open up in Somerville, fine, but leave Steve out of it, she said. "They should be Steve's Ice Cream from New York." Plus, she said, the whole "artisanal" thing the new Steve's is emphasizing - one of its partners is Taza Chocolate of Somerville - is hardly new.
"We have been doing that for 30 years, longer, Steve has been doing it for 40 years," she said.
Currently, the Herrells have their own shop in Northampton and one franchisee in Huntington, NY. They also sell their ice cream to several retail outlets in the Pioneer Valley. The Herrells once had several franchises in the Boston area, but the last one closed in 2009.
She said the economy has hindered efforts to recruit new franchise owners in the Boston area willing to make ice cream on site in small batches and to become parts of their communities, but that the couple has been getting more inquiries of late.
She said she and Herrell - divorced, but still working together - are looking at several possible locations, including Brighton, the Longwood Medical Area, Harvard Square, Kendall Square, Central Square and, yes, Davis Square. She said they even talked to the owner of the building that replaced the one that housed the original Steve's. Alas, she said, its current configuration doesn't lend itself to an ice-cream shop.
For the Herrells, this would mark a return to the area that last saw a Herrell's in 2009, when franchisees in Harvard Square and Allston parted ways with the company.