Sally Mengel of Loblobby on Keeping Cool, Avoiding Burnout - Southern Business Review


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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sally Mengel of Loblobby on Keeping Cool, Avoiding Burnout

Sally Mengel moved to Little Rock in 2009, having previously lived most of her life north of Boston and in St. Louis. She worked at ice cream shop Muriel & Sebastian’s and owned a student-run coffee cart called the Green Bean while attending Emory University in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology.

Mengel was working as an assistant manager at the Green Corner Store on South Main Street in Little Rock when she started Loblolly as a soda fountain in that store. It was there until the summer of 2017, when Loblolly opened its own store next door. Mengel also completed the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course in 2012.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why?
I love what all goes into our Little Rock-y Road. It is a milk chocolate ice cream. We make all of our ice cream bases from scratch, using milk, cream, sugar and Arkansas honey. We add our house-made marshmallows, Arkansas toasted pecans and chocolate chips to the ice cream. It’s our take on the classic rocky road.

What’s your strategy to keep revenue up in the winter months?
Marshmallows! The kitchen is up to its neck in marshmallows. We become a marshmallow factory and make made-from-scratch hot chocolates at the Scoop Shop. It is a challenge every summer to make sure the ice cream, equipment and staff are all kept cool.

Where did the name for your business come from?
Loblolly is the Arkansas state tree. Also, it means a cold, damp place, like the bottom of an ice cream pint. It is also a mouthful to say, kind of sounding like you are talking with a big scoop of ice cream.

How do you keep the menu fresh for your customers?
At the Loblolly Scoop Shop, we have 32 ice cream flavors. We rotate seasonal flavors, so every season there are more than 10 new flavors to try out. We create flavors based on what is locally in season, so we will have Strawberry Buttermilk in the spring, then Watermelon Sorbet in the summer, Pumpkin Cheesecake in the fall and then Orange Creamsicle Sherbet in the winter.

Why do you still do what you do? How did you become an ice cream maker in the first place?
We started Loblolly to provide locally sourced and locally made ice cream in Little Rock. We saw that there wasn’t a source for handcrafted, small-batch ice cream in central Arkansas. We keep making ice cream and sweet treats because, well, people keep eating it. We have gotten to share our product at birthdays, weddings, festivals and parties around Arkansas. We get to continue to do what we do because the local food community keeps supporting us.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career, and what lesson did you learn from it?
The biggest mistake is not asking for help or delegating. A small business cannot be supported by one person. It leads to burnout.