In a quaint little house in West Village lies Bloom & Scoop, a product of Reilly Craft Creamery. This charming abode is owned by Chris and Gabrielle Reilly, a husband and wife of 12 years and recent business co-owners. However, their story far extends the realms of beautiful bouquets and tasty treats: it’s a story of perseverance and city pride, of loving compromise and community cohesion.
We had an opportunity to join Chris and Gabrielle at Bloom & Scoop. Gathered around a rustic kitchen table adorned with Gabrielle’s floral arrangements, we witnessed the couple reminisce on the history of Bloom & Scoop and their time in Detroit.
Everyone’s got a story, and we can’t wait to share the Reillys’.
Business is Blooming
“I’ve been making ice cream for years and years in Detroit,” Chris Reilly reflected. “Probably 15 years. But the first 12 of those were in a restaurant setting. A couple years ago, I did the Hatch Detroit competition to see if I could get some traction. It went well, but I didn’t win. So I kind of put the business on the backburner and got a corporate job with Hiller’s Markets. I was running their cheese department; I make cheese as well as ice cream…I’ll do anything with milk,” he chuckled. “Well Hiller’s sold out to Kroger about eight months after I took the position. It was a big shift for me: taking a corporate job and coming from the service and food production and the creative side. And I found myself without a job for the first time ever in my life. But I got a severance package and unemployment so I thought, ‘If I’m ever going to start a business, now is the time.’ So I just went all in and leased a space for production. I’ve been doing production and pop-ups and a little bit of retail. And this summer I thought, ‘I really need a space to test this whole scoop-shop concept’ because, you know, I think it’s good to have a balance of retail and distribution,” said Chris. “Some friends told me to talk to these guys, the gentlemen that were renovating this space; they’ve done a couple other really nice projects here in West Village. And they told me they weren’t starting renovation until next year and they have this empty space and they’d love the neighborhood to get comfortable with the idea of the houses actually being commercial fixes versus residential. So they asked us, ‘You guys want a pop-up in this space?’”
“It’s a cute house,” he added. “The neighborhood’s been great so that was a great opportunity. So, we had this space and we were wondering what to do with it and how to decorate it. And I thought, ‘Well, my wife’s a florist!’ And it seemed like a really cool concept: to tell both our stories. It’s a really honest concept, because I do ice cream, she does flowers, and it’s kind of a strange combo. But when you know our story, it makes total sense. That’s how we ended up here,” he concluded.
“So we just had our 12-year wedding anniversary,” revealed Gabrielle Reilly, “and I’ve had my shop in Grosse Pointe for 15 years this month. And it just seemed like a fun opportunity to do a project together. It’s a chance to put my feelers out in a different and younger market and to see how that translates to this whole Detroit scene that we’re a part of anyways. We’ve lived in Detroit for a long time and this is really close to our kids’ school. It just seemed like a perfect opportunity,” she added.
“So the question would be, why the West Village,’” Chris said. “We have a lot of families that we know who live here and they all said, ‘You should open up an ice cream shop in West Village; We really need ice cream in West Village!’ And Mac Far, from the Indian Village and West Village Association was really pressing me. Everyday he said, ‘When are you opening up?’ or ‘We really need a scoop shop…’ or ‘What can I do for you?’ It was great being able to do it in this format and to test the concept. It’s really making me a lot more comfortable with the idea of signing the lease for next summer and coming up with a permanent concept for this. Maybe even this space,” Chris admitted.”
In celebration of their 12-year anniversary, I just had to ask: “How did you two meet?”
Pink cheeks and shy smiles spread across the couple’s faces, as Gabrielle answered: “We had mutual friends. We were just a big group of friends that would all hang out together.” “Around Wayne State,” Chris chimed in. “Back in the early 90s when it was the Cass Corridor. We were just laughing about that last night: All the different names. Now, Cass Corridor is Midtown, and that area you would never go to between New Center and Highland Park is the North End where there’s all that cool stuff going in. The transformation in Detroit is an amazing thing.”
“Eventually we ended up together,” concluded Gabrielle. “How long have we actually been together Chris?” she asked her husband.
“About 23 years,” said Chris.
“What’s been great about this,” he continued, “And I was just reflecting on this: working together with our businesses has brought such a deeper understanding of what the pressures and constraints are on Gabrielle and it’s been good because it’s opened up the lines of communication. We’re now more involved in each other’s lives.
It goes both ways,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s a little stressful but for the most part, it’s been a really positive experience because now we have a feeling for each other’s deadlines and stuff.”
“I think this project has been a lot of fun because I’ve had my business for 15 years and on a day-to-day basis that can be the same-old, same-old,” she admitted. “Doing a new project in a new market with his business is fun and new and rejuvenating.”
“I really think Gabrielle is a phenomenal florist,” raved Chris. “It’s a great opportunity to tell her story as an amazing florist in the area. Grosse Pointe is a great community that has supported her business for all these years, but sometimes it can seem isolated. So this is an opportunity to reach out to this new Detroit community that’s forming. It used to be that you’d have to go over to Grosse Pointe to get services. Now Detroit is stepping up. You can go to Whole Foods instead of Trader Joe’s in Grosse Pointe. It’s a really good opportunity for her to get out there and it’s a great opportunity for me to let people know that there’s really good ice cream being made.”
“There’s always ice cream,” said Chris. “Sometimes you’re just selling ice cream to people who want ice cream; it’s just something that you do. But I’m trying to make an ice cream experience. It takes time to get your product out there for people to try. And the more they try it, the more they love it! I look at being here and the different people that have come through and it’s been great being next to Sister Pie because on a Saturday, people will wander down here.”
“We have a lot of people that we know in the neighborhood that have stumbled in here,” Gabrielle added.”
We began discussing their ice cream (oh yeah, that’s what we were here for!) We asked about their most popular flavor.
“It’s pretty interesting the way this summer has been, flavor-wise,” Chris began. “I would never have picked it, but I think there’s some kind of old school, retro thing going on and people love mint chocolate chip. And I do it without green dyes so it’s just really good chocolate and really minty ice cream. I had an amazing response to that and this other flavor I came up with last year for ‘Record Store Day.’ I did a Killer Bees flavor because I love old-school hip-hop. So I popped up at Paramita for ‘Record Store Day’ and I made all these Wu-Tang Clan inspired ice cream flavors.
So in-house I make this honey crumble candy: It’s kind of like a toffee concept. Basically you turn sugar into this crunchy, Styrofoam thing with baking soda and I made a honey flavored ice cream and crumbled that on it. So I guess with the caramelized-honey and the little crunchy bits of texture, people go crazy over it. That was a surprise go-to flavor. People also like this chocolate turtle that I came up with, made of chocolate ice cream and a toasted, caramel pecan swirl in it.”
We then asked Gabrielle about her flowers and how she decorates the space.
“I have a lot of succulents and interesting plants,” she said. “I’m just doing that because they don’t require a lot of maintenance and they can just be here in this environment. And then anything that’s on the table is for sale: So anyone can come in and buy a flower in a vase and take it home. Just something to brighten up your space for the weekend. My flowers are locally grown. I’ve been buying from Oak Hill Farms, who sell at the Pontiac Market. I’ve been buying flowers from them for over 20 years at least. It’s a nice relationship and it’s really good to have the abundant, summer flowers that are local and affordable. During the season when you can do it…I got to do it!” she chuckled.
“It gives me an opportunity to play around and do different things and make little different flower installations,” she continued. “We were talking about scraping the paint off the walls when we first came in the space, but I thought it was kind of cool to have little things growing out of it.”
I asked the couple who painted the stairway.
“Joel Mockoviac, who we hired to run the space and sell ice cream and flowers, is an artist,” explained Chris. “We’re using one extra room as a gallery and Joel instituted that because he’s an artist and needed a space. Going forward, we’re going to be switching in some artists. We’re actually in the process of reaching out to the Villages to curate a Village art show. That’s what we’re really going to be focusing on now that summer’s winding down and we’re going to have more neighborhood people. We’re trying to be more fun and activity based. We’re hoping to have a kid’s mural painting day. We want to have kids come in and paint a mural.
We’re creative people and we love creative things. If you can bring in people to do art, it’s pretty inspirational. And it will drum up business awareness and have fun with the neighborhood that includes the kids,” he concluded.
The Inside Scoop
Everyone’s got a story. We encourage you: next time you stumble into a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant or hidden ice cream shop, take time to talk to someone. You just might hear an amazing story!
You can visit Bloom & Scoop at 8116 Kercheval St, in West Village every Thursday – Friday from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. You can follow the Reillys on Facebook and Instagram. For more information on Gabrielle’s business, Flowers by Gabrielle (15029 Kercheval Ave. Grosse Pointe), visit Facebook and Twitter.