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South Shore Restaurateur Wants to Reinvent Cake and Ice Cream

By Sam Cholke | August 13, 2015 5:37am
 James Gray is working to bring the upscale cuisine of the North Side to his South Shore neighborhood.
James Gray is working to bring the upscale cuisine of the North Side to his South Shore neighborhood.
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Courtesy of James Gray

HYDE PARK — Cake and ice cream could soon become a daily option in South Shore.

James Gray, a veteran of Goddess and Grocer and Glazed and Infused, has decided his own neighborhood needs some upscale options, too, and is planning to open an ice cream shop in South Shore.

“Sweet James Soft Serve Co. will put two things together everyone loves — and loves together — but aren’t able to get together on an often basis: ice cream and cake,” Gray said Wednesday. “It’s kind of like your birthday every day.”

He said he wants to reinvent the Dairy Queen soft-serve concept and bring it to the South Shore.

“It’s a neighborhood that has very little and gets very little attention,” said Gray, 42, who has lived in the neighborhood while working as the director of operations at Goddess and Grocer and Glazed and Infused for the past four years.

He wants to give back to the neighborhood, in the form of chocolate soft-serve in a cone rolled in red velvet cake crumbs or vanilla ice cream perched on carrot cake or a custom ice cream sandwich of vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies rolled in toasted pecans and drizzled with caramel.

South Shore resident James Gray said soft-serve ice cream is overdue for a reinvention. [James Gray]

“That’s it, that’s all we’re doing,” Gray said. “It’s very targeted and very unique.”

He said he also wants to bring a business to the neighborhood that really promotes the personal and professional development of its employees.

Gray said he has found a space at 71st Street and South Shore Drive, across from the South Shore Cultural Center, but didn’t want to give the address until the lease is finalized.

He said Sweet James could open as early as this winter, providing time to work out the kinks before a summer rush.

“I’m OK with taking it slow,” Gray said. “The rent and overhead in South Shore are not what they are on the North Side, so it buys us some time.”

He said he’s negotiating with a well-known bakery in the Loop to provide the cake and is tweaking a logo for the store that he hopes will have five locations or more in a few years.

James Gray is betting that cake and ice cream together will win over South Shore residents with a sweet tooth. [James Gray]

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