If all you were going by is the number of local places to share a beer or to have ice cream downtown, you would decide Knoxville, Tennessee, is obsessed with ice cream and beer. Maybe not at the same time, at the same location . . . yet.
This weekend, the fourth ice cream store opened on Knoxville’s main downtown thoroughfare, Gay Street. Cruze Farm, our area’s signature local dairy (with the motto Home of Jersey Cows and Farm Girls), has opened a soft-serve ice cream store at 445 S. Gay Street. Located across the street The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain sells in-store-made ice cream, sundaes, shakes, and floats at 418 S. Gay. Phoenix recreates an old-fashioned soda fountain/drug store including vintage decor as well as friendly, down-home personal attention.
The locally owned franchise of Kilwins Knoxville sells ice cream and chocolate treats two doors down from the Phoenix Fountain at 408 S. Gay Street. And the oldest ice cream shop of the four, Coolato Gelato, sells Italian ice cream (gelato), as well as smoothies, salads, and paninis at 524 S. Gay.
You may ask which purveyor has the most delicious ice cream. Well, the line was too long at Cruze Farm when we came out from our movie yesterday, so I cannot personally vouch for the yumminess of their offerings. Perhaps the long line speaks for itself.
Similarly I have not sampled Coolato Gelato’s wares either. After my celiac-disease diagnosis years ago, I tried to have Coolato’s gelato, but the woman behind the counter made it clear they do not have gluten-free gelato, so gelatoless I remain.
As for the Phoenix, I love their peppermint stick ice cream which they make and sell for the holidays and the winter season! Kilwins has a delicious chocolate-mint ice cream that is very rich, so I can only handle one dip.
At this point, with the jury out on Cruze Farm’s new soft-serve offering, the Phoenix wins for homemade ice cream deliciousness, friendly staff, local ownership, and homey, soda-fountain decor.
And, by the way, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Friday, that Knoxville’s eponymous Kay’s Ice Cream, reopened on Wednesday, August 8. With its giant ice cream cone outside, the shop reopened at its longtime location of 6200 Chapman Highway, across the river and 4 miles into South Knoxville. The new co-owner, Susan Saah, worked at Kay’s for five years while she was in high school, so she understands the nostalgia Knoxvillians feel for enjoying a cold treat on a hot day.
‘Tis the season for ice cream in Tennessee. So my fellow city dwellers, August is a good time to decide for yourself which of the four Gay Street ice cream stores–or the Kay’s Ice Cream store in South Knoxville–sells the best tasty, dairy treat!
~ Anna – 8/12/2018