As temperatures rise, tourists and locals seek ways to beat the heat when they are out sightseeing or working downtown.
Ice Cream Etcetera, owned for the past nine years by Alise Seidl, is an ideal place to pick up an appetizing lunch and the ubiquitous ice cream as it is right at City Market in the heart of downtown.
Manager Michael Chernyak said an ice cream shop has always been located in the building at 19 Jefferson. With a small but happy staff, the shop draws regulars and first time visitors with its café-style tables and intimate atmosphere.
We have a pretty friendly environment, our staff is really laid back -- we joke around, chit-chat with the customers, says Michael. Youve got a lot of traffic, the tourists come in tired and this allows them to relax.
He adds, You can always depend on an ice cream shop to be someplace cool with something refreshing. We even have cool treats like sorbets and smoothies for the non-ice cream eaters.
However, its not as much the ice cream as the lunch menu that draws many business owners and workers in City Market to Ice Cream Etcetera.
The chicken salad -- we get so many comments and requests for it. It just tastes different than any other chicken salad youve ever had, says the manager.
The secret to the chicken salad is the wide variety of ingredients Alise includes in the mix and how she mixes it.
Michael says, On days shes not here and we mix it up, its not quite the same. Its close, but not quite hers.
And the chicken salad wins converts from picky eaters.
We had one man come in at lunch one day and ask what he should try. I told him the chicken salad, and he said, Is it any good? I told him to try it. After he finished, he said, I need three to go to take on the plane. That was the best chicken salad Ive ever had, says Michael, laughing.
When customers ask for the recipe, the staff tells them nicely, but firmly, that the ingredients are Alises family recipe and its not available to the public.
Each employee also creates a sandwich for the menu. For Michael, his is the Flying Russian, an allusion to his childhood until 10 years old in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Flying Russian features turkey, Swiss cheese, tomato, mayo and spicy mustard on grilled sourdough.
However, the ice cream still proves a draw for many people. The shop can hardly keep mint chocolate chip in stock, and customers often request butter pecan or pralines and cream as Southern staples.
Little customers like the specialty treats like Superman ice cream, a medium blue concoction with red and yellow sprinkles on top.
The location, just down Jefferson from the horse cab stand, draws a lot of foot traffic looking for such basic staples as bottled water, sweet tea and juice as well. Michael says the restaurant keeps all on hand for anyone seeking just a little pick-me-up to cool down from the temperatures outside.
Its a great little place to come in and relax, get out of the sun or off the hot street. Youve got to go somewhere and this is just the kind of place you should come to. Its a friendly atmosphere. Within the City Market area, its kind of like a barbershop. All the local people stop in, he said.
And the restaurant has a loyal following. Local shop owners and workers in other restaurants love to pop in and get a great, inexpensive lunch.
Michael says, The people are so loyal. At certain times of day, we know who will come in. They sit down and we dont even take their order, we just make it. Were the people who keep them fed when theyre downtown working.
In addition to dine in and regular take out options, phone ahead take out is also available for persons coming from further away. Alise and the staff will also create sandwich platters and trays for office meetings and luncheons. However, Michael advises calling in advance to place such orders.
We stay busy, which is a good thing, he said.
Ice Cream Etcetera, 19 Jefferson St., is open M-Th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon-6-. Call them at 239-9444.