Just in the nick of time, with summer around the corner, Don and Ellyn Pulver have swung open the doors on the Sweet Spot, a multi-flavored ice cream parlor where customers can chill out.
Retirees in the adjacent Timber Pines community and elsewhere likely remember the famous boast of the Howard Johnson's restaurant chain: "Twenty-eight flavors."
At Sweet Spot, try 34 flavors — or perhaps put in a request from a total 150 varieties created by the parlor's supplier, "right here in Florida," Don Pulver noted.
"Spumoni," he mused, as he dug out a well-rounded scoop. "I've heard nobody around here has it." A regular cone: "two scoops and a little more."
Pulver, 63, retired from a career in retail administration, but not from a lifelong interest in food.
"Ice cream sounded like a fun business," he said, "so here we are."
His gesture took in the spiffy-clean surroundings, with ice cream-color decor, heroic circles of pastels replicating the commercial ice cream containers. Little tables and bentwood-style chairs of a bygone era provide a place for customers to sit.
"When you walk in, it's like an ice cream parlor," said Lauren Jolly of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. "It's so cheery and so colorful."
Pulver and his wife researched suppliers online, toured the manufacturing plant of the Ice Cream Club in Boynton Beach and tasted samples.
"We said this is the one. They've won lots of awards, most recently for their chocolate," he said, pointing out a deeply dark concoction.
While chocolate may seem pedestrian, Pulver said it ranks among the top three choices of customers at the shop, joined by butter pecan and caramel caribou.
The adventuresome might order up a cone, sundae or milk shake from a tub of "garbage can." Its label explains that the vanilla ice cream base is chocked with bits of seven kinds of candy bars, plus handfuls of peanuts.
Cherry oblivion, key lime pie and blue moon flavors rank among the 24 on display. Ten more in a back-room freezer — carrot cake among them — appear on a rotation basis.
With a decorator's skill, Ellyn Pulver designs and builds the shop's ice cream cakes. She makes mini-cheesecake pops, finishing the treats-on-a-stick with a chocolate coating.
The Pulvers recently expanded their sandwich menu, originally limited to homemade sloppy joes and hot dogs with six topping choices. New are egg salad and chicken salad fillings, along with meatball, sausage and eggplant subs, the mainstays all ladled with Ellyn's homemade tomato sauce and blanketed in Parmesan cheese.
The next treat she has in mind: individual cheesecakes.
Don Pulver is trying to perfect a pizza dough and sauce.
"But until I get it right," he said, "I'm not going to bring it out."
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]