Handmade ice cream shop to expand from Arlington to the Mosaic District and beyond

An Arlington-based ice cream shop that brings together flavors from around the world is planting its flag in the Mosaic District to further an ambitious expansion plan.

Mimi’s Handmade will take up residence in the Merrifield neighborhood at 2985 District Avenue, Suite 160, replacing 520 Ice Cream and Tea after the cafe closed late last year.

Currently expected to open around mid-August to early September, the new store will closely resemble the original Mimi’s, which opened in Pentagon City in December 2021, owner Rollin Amore says.

“You’ve got to have consistency across the board, consistency in the quality of your ice cream, consistency in your offerings,” Amore told FFXnow. “I mean, I want to appeal to a broad base. I want to appeal across the age span from 8 months old to 80 years old.”

Mimi’s is a family affair, dedicated to Amore’s daughters — Mimi and Alexandra — and inspired by gelato, custard and sweets recipes passed down by his Italian and German grandmothers, according to the website.

Venturing into ice cream after retiring from a nearly 40-year career as a banker, Amore has developed a diverse assortment of over 40 flavors, from classic options like French vanilla and chocolate to bolder scoops like sweet corn or wasabi peas — one of several to incorporate ingredients he encountered while traveling in Asia.

Mimi’s has 32 flavors on display at any given time, all made in-house with “real” ingredients, not flavoring, Amore says. About 70 to 80% of them are fixtures, while others rotate based on the season or their creator’s inclinations.

“If I get inspired, I’ll try a new flavor,” Amore said. “As an example, a couple of weeks ago, I started making a red guava sherbet…It’s more summer. I’ve been making fresh watermelon and fresh cantaloupe, and I just pureed a few fruit and then add a little sugar and make a sorbet out of them.”

Calling the Mosaic District “a good spot to be in,” Amore says he has always envisioned Mimi’s as “a small chain of stores.” The business is also coming to Chevy Chase in two weeks and Rockville in three months.

Looking into 2024, leases have been signed for locations in Annandale and West Falls Church, though Amore couldn’t share the exact addresses yet. A Sterling shop is also a possibility, along with a commissary kitchen where all of the ice cream production will ultimately be consolidated.

Despite the aggressiveness of the planned expansion, he expressed confidence that Mimi’s can maintain the quality that has earned it near-universal acclaim on Yelp and a nod from Northern Virginia Magazine as one of the region’s best restaurants.

“Ice cream stores, the whole dynamic is changing,” Amore said. “We went from two years ago the Baskin Robbins, the Ben and Jerry’s to now a new generation of more artisan ice creams. There’s a bit of shift in the industry, and I think I’m on the edge of that in terms of my flavor strategy, my preparations and so forth.”

Read more on FFXnow…

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