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As City Desk reported on Monday, after November 30, Cap Hill residents will no longer be able to turn to the Ben and Jerry’s on 7th street S.E. for a diabetes-priming scoop of Super Fudge Chunk. Though on election night the brightly lit storefront was full of families being served by joking, neatly-uniformed teenagers, the business, owned by the Latin American Youth Coalition, is going bust. “We’d been considering closing the store for awhile,”says Scott Perry, who runs the LAYC division in charge of the spot.
The Ben and Jerry’s “Partnershop,” which opened in 2002, did well for about four years, Perry says. People frequented the business and scores of youth received job and life skills training there. But over the last two years, things have gotten tough. Perry blames the economic downturn, the Eastern Market fire (which slowed down pedestrian traffic for a period) and the Baskin Robbins that opened on nearby 8th street.
About ten employees, most of them underprivileged teens employed for the first time, will lose their gigs. Perry hopes to place the kids at LAYC friendly businesses like Target and Staples.
Perry recalls that when Ben and Jerry’s Corporate found out the shop was struggling, they came by and suggested the outlet “push” its cakes and catering service. Thanks in no small part to the effort put forth by the store’s employees (they gave out free samples and made friendly sales pitches) the plan worked. Cake sales went up and the store got a catering job about every two weeks, leading to the shop having “its best summer in a long time.” But it was too little too late.
Asked what will happen to the storefront after Ben and Jerry’s vacates, Perry has the scoop, he says the French restaurant next door, Montmartre, plans to take over the lease and expand in some way.