- Brian Chilson
When Sally Mengel, 26, and Rachel Moore, 25, opened the soda fountain at the Green Corner Store on South Main to serve their Loblolly brand ice cream, it signaled another step in the progress of SoMa neighborhood's revitalization. Drawing on Mengel's experiences at Muriel and Sebastian's Ice Cream in Atlanta and Moore's work as a private caterer and as a pastry chef at Cafe Bossa Nova and Rosalia's Family Bakery, the two set out to create high-quality artisanal ice cream, debuting to rave reviews in April 2012.
Focusing on using local organic ingredients, Mengel and Moore have explored the outer boundaries of ice cream flavors, from goat's milk with honey to fromage blanc with jalapeno. Fans of more traditional flavors aren't ignored, either, with small batches of vanilla and various chocolate and fruit varieties rotating on and off the menu. In addition to the ice cream, Moore has used her skills as a gluten-free and vegan baker to develop gluten-free waffle cones, brownies, and cookies, and the duo have also developed their own soda syrups for old-fashioned phosphates.
Not content to confine themselves to South Main, Mengel and Moore's creations can be found in pint form at Argenta Market in North Little Rock, Boulevard Bread locations across the metro area and at Hillcrest Artisan Meats during the summer.
Loblolly has also teamed up with the Kitchen at White Water Tavern, providing Wednesday night "boozy milkshakes" to thirsty White Water patrons and selling kitchen master Jonathan Wilkins' gluten-free cornbread panini sandwiches at the Green Corner Store.
Mengel and Moore have ambitions beyond getting their product into stores: They plan to open their own Loblolly ice cream truck, something as much of a throwback in this day and age as a soda fountain. Facility expansion is also in the cards, with plans for a kitchen all their own that Mengel insists will have "purple floors." The Loblolly crew most recently attended "ice cream university" at Penn State University with chefs and confectioners from all over the country, and plan to reopen after a short winter hiatus with new flavors that continue to show the spirit, imagination and drive that have become the hallmark of this small business.