By Greg Ellison
(Aug. 6, 2020) Things got a little tastier in Ocean Pines last month following the opening of Sweet Shack ice cream and frozen yogurt shop in the Manklin Creek Shopping Center.
Since launching the family-owned and operated business on July 17, Michelle Dell’Aquila-Reed said the reception has been beyond expectations.
“It’s been pretty good and probably even better than I expected,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
Dell’Aquila-Reed, along with her husband, Matt Reed and daughter, Madeline, are open Monday through Thursday from 11a.m.-9 p.m., with closing time extended to 10 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours of operation are from noon-9 p.m.
Since relocating to the Eastern Shore from New York City in 2010, Dell’Aquila-Reed, who previously worked managing resort restaurants, was dealt a life-altering blow after being diagnosed with stage four cance several years ago.
“I’m living through my own thing,” she said.
Earlier this year following the covid-19 outbreak Dell’Aquila-Reed said her family decided to actualize a long-held dream with the new business venture.
“I always liked this spot since I moved down here,” she said. “When it came up for rent I said, ‘Lets try to go for it.’”
Living out a childhood dream, Dell’Aquila-Reed said the goal is to leave Sweet Shack customers savoring quality soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream, sundaes, milk shakes, frozen yogurt, gelati and Italian ice.
“We do 24 flavors of soft serve and frozen yogurt,” she said. “They’re all made with essential oils.”
The recently opened Sweet Shack is the realization of a youthful fascination with a comparable operation in the Catskills.
“Growing up, my parents had a summer home in Pennsylvania,” she said. “There was a little ice cream spot in the middle of nowhere that had 24 flavors.”
The warm weather visits to the ice cream merchant left an indelible impression.
“I always thought it was fascinating the way they made them,” she said.
The quality offerings were flavorful enough to linger in Dell’Aquila-Reed’s consciousness until eventually helping motivate the family to provide a similar aesthetic in Ocean Pines.
“How can you not have 24 flavors of soft serve near the beach?” she said.
Higher quality ingredients are also the focus for soft serve production.
“They’re actually essential oils you add into the ice cream with no added sugars, just the flavor,” she said. “You mix it with either vanilla or chocolate as the base and then press it down back into the soft serve shape.”
Besides two-dozen soft serve flavor options, hand-dipped ice cream, milk shakes, gelati and Italian ice, Dell’Aquila-Reed said personalized ice cream cakes would be added to the menu soon.
“I love cakes and decorating cakes,” she said.
Regardless of starting a new business with challenges beyond the typical hurdles during the coronavirus pandemic, the reception was strong, Dell’Aquila-Reed said.
“It was kind of a soft opening,” she said. “I didn’t really put it out there but everybody came.”
To learn more look for Sweet Shack on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
“We’re working on a website” she said.
Winding out the first month in business, despite the extraordinary times, Dell’Aquila-Reed said the rewards of satisfying consumers have outweighed other obstacles.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge with some things,” she said. “Out of all this craziness I wanted something good to come out of it.”
Sweet Shack is located at 11312 Manklin Creek Rd. For more information email email@example.com.