For nearly a decade, the village of Riverside has been without an ice cream parlor of its own.
With the 2013 closure of the longtime, beloved Grumpy’s Cafe, the village lost a local hangout for kids and families, leaving Riversiders craving a cool treat to venture into neighboring towns on hot summer days or for that perfect after-dinner dessert.
But last month, just in time for the start of summer, London Ice Cream Shop opened its doors at 38 East Ave. in downtown Riverside, promising the charming, old-fashioned dessert parlor local residents had been craving.
Sara Flores, a Riverside resident and owner of London Ice Cream Shop, says the driving force to set up shop in the village was simple — it’s her way of contributing something special to kids and families in the place she calls home.
“I decided to open a business in Riverside for the same reason that I decided to live here,” she said. “It’s a beautiful, family-oriented town and tight-knight community. Everyone is so kind, friendly and welcoming — Riverside feels like one big family.”
Though the ice cream parlor is Flores’ first venture into the dessert business, she’s no stranger to being a business owner.
Twelve years ago, she opened her first establishment, a women’s clothing shop called Piel & Canela, on Cermak Road in Cicero, which still operates today.
Then, in 2021, Flores helped her daughter, Gisela Munoz, launch Catrina Tequila Bar, just steps from the ice cream parlor, which offers robust cocktail offerings with a limited menu of Mexican small plates in an artistic environment with vibrant decor reflective of the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead.
So last year, when a spot right next door to Catrina became available, Flores figured, why not take the plunge and open her own business and contribute to the friendly, small-business feel the village works hard to foster?
“I don’t just see London as a business — I wanted to create a place where everyone feels comfortable hanging out at and socializing,” Flores said. “It’s a place where families can spend time together and just enjoy a sweet treat. Also, being located in Riverside gives me an opportunity to be closer to my daughter’s business and be there to support and help her as well.”
As for the ice cream parlor’s name, it’s due to the village’s old-world feel, according to Flores.
“I came up with the name London Ice Cream Shop because being in the center of town at night, with the historical buildings and oil-lit lamps, I can’t help but feel like I’m in quaint London square,” she said.
Flores said she hopes the shop can quickly become a town favorite.
“We want to make London a reflection of the town and get to know everyone, as well as hear suggestions on how we can achieve that,” she said.
Along with traditional ice cream offerings, such as scoops in waffle cones, banana splits and milkshakes, some of the specialty items at London Ice Cream Shop include unique flavors like guava, pomegranate and hazelnut, and desserts such as macarons, tiramisu and chocolate-covered strawberries, among other treats.
London Ice Cream Shop is open Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.