A new ice cream shop is opening in Innovation Quarter just in time for this week’s Gears & Guitars festival.
Lill Dipper, which will open Thursday, is a small, window-service shop at 308 N. Patterson Ave., a stone’s throw from Bailey Park, the site of the festival.
Lill Dipper is the brainchild of Joseph Bradford, in partnership with John Bryan, a co-owner of Krankies restaurant nearby. Bradford also opened up the Tin Can bottle shop next door six months ago.
Lill Dipper sells soft-serve cones. People order and pick up at a window outside, where there are table and chairs.
The shop has just one flavor of ice cream, vanilla, made on-site with from a premium liquid mix. The Taylor soft-serve machine has the capacity to make a second flavor, which Bradford might do later.
But what sets the shop apart are all of its toppings and dippings. Lill Dipper offers about 20 different toppings and 15 different dippings.
The shop has most of the standard toppings, including nuts, coconut, Oreo cookie bits, and candy sprinkles. But it also has a lot of savory toppings, such as bacon, pretzels, potato sticks and tortilla strips. Other toppings include animal crackers, gummy bears and spicy trail mix.
Any cone can be dipped in a number of warm dippings, including dark chocolate, lemon, strawberry, caramel, lavender, coffee and green-tea matcha.
“We’re getting a really good imported chocolate for the dippings,” Bradford said. “We’re trying to bring back American soft-serve but elevated.”
Lill Dipper offers cones in three sizes: mini, regular and large for $1, $2.50 and $3.50, respectively. The toppings and dippings are sold separately. Each topping is 50 cents, and each dipping is $1.
The shop will have a handful of specialty cones that will offer various combinations of toppings and dippings at a discount.
“We are going to partner with a different nonprofit each month,” Bryan said. Each month, Lill Dipper will create a special cone to honor the designated nonprofit group.
For June, the nonprofit will be Old Salem Museum & Gardens, and the special cone will be made with white chocolate coffee dipping, honey and crushed Moravian cookies with a whole cookie on top. The honey — sold exclusively at Tin Can — is made right in Old Salem.
“We’ll give 50 percent of the profits from that for the month to the nonprofit,” Bryan said. “We’ll also have one day during the month when we’ll give them 100 percent of the profits.”
For July, the nonprofit of the month will be The Shalom Project, which sponsors the annual Big Chill ice-cream social fundraiser. This year’s Big Chill will be 3 to 6 p.m. July 21 at Bailey Park.
Next Door to Lill Dipper, Bradford has created a distinctive bottle shop, which also sells a small selection of snacks. “It’s like a little bodega,” Bradford said. “But the selection is curated.”
The wine selection is mostly Old World, heavy on French, Spanish and Italian wines. It has some U.S. bottles, too, as well as ones from Greece and Lebanon.
“And I try to get a lot of hard-to-find beers,” Bradford said. He doesn’t stock N.C. beers, primarily because other shops carry them. Instead, he aims for ones that most other shops in town may not have.
His No. 1 seller is Starburst IPA from Ecliptic Brewing in Portland, Ore. Others include the Mikkeler Raspberry Blush, Modern Times Hoppy Citra IPA and Flensburger Pilsener. “And I try to bring in new products every week,” Bradford said.
The store has such nonalcoholic beverages as juice, ginger ale, kombucha and soda. It also has sandwiches from Camino Bakery, cheese and crackers, chocolate bars and more.
Bradford said that the eclectic selection in the Tin Can and Lill Dipper are designed to create a playful atmosphere. “We want to serve fun.”