By Dillon Tabish, 4-15-12
||Caption: Sam Dauenhauer descends a ladder after hanging the first of two Sweet Peaks signs at its new location on Main Street in Kalispell. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Many moments of joy are shared with an ice cream cone in hand. Whether it's a reward for an afternoon bike ride or something enjoyable on a rainy day or first date, ice cream brings people together. That's how Sam and Marissa Dauenhauer connected.
"I always had this passion for ice cream and a passion for starting my own business, and then I met Sam and he was the same way," Marissa said. "We decided we should do something that's fun and exciting and can give us an opportunity to give back to our community."
Together they started Sweet Peaks Homemade Ice Cream in Whitefish in 2010. The small downtown shop has become a popular gathering spot for fellow ice cream lovers and fans of the Dauenhauers' creative flavors, like lemon dill, maple bacon and orange cardamom.
By popular demand, the business has expanded into downtown Kalispell. On April 12, the two-year anniversary of the original Sweet Peaks opening, Sam and Marissa began dishing out scoops at their newest location inside the long-vacant brick building on the corner of Main Street and Fourth Street.
"A lot of people say it's the perfect ice cream shop," Sam said of Sweet Peaks' cozy new home, formerly a small restaurant and gas station. "We walk around and feel that way, too. It feels like we were meant to be here."
Sam and Marissa are sticking to what they know best. The Kalispell shop will feature 16 unique flavors that will change throughout the year and include local ingredients, like cherries and huckleberries or Montana Coffee Traders espresso. Patrons will be able to enjoy their frozen treats either inside the freshly remodeled storefront or up top on the open patio overlooking downtown. The shop will be open late during the summer, and the Dauenhauers hope it will become a destination for the community just like the Whitefish location.
"I can't wait for people to ride their bikes and walk here in the summer," Marissa said.
In many ways, this latest addition is a homecoming. Sam grew up in Kalispell and went to high school at Flathead. He remembers filling up his car at the old gas station that's now been transformed into Sweet Peaks.
Marissa Dauenhauer begins creating a batch of chocolate coconut sorbet.
"Even though we haven't really left, I've been wanting to come back to the city I grew up in," he said.
For the same reason they opened the original shop in the heart of Whitefish, Sam and Marissa chose the empty corner storefront in Kalispell.
"We've always loved this building. I think everybody does," Marissa said. "It was really important for us to be central and part of the community. Kalispell seemed like a logical next step for us. And we needed more space, to be honest."
The business went through 8,000 gallons of ice cream last year, Sam said. The new location can accommodate the growing craving for Sweet Peaks and will eventually be where all its ice cream is made. Last year the Dauenhauers added a seasonal store in Bigfork while the Whitefish shop remains often crowded to capacity. A growing number of local restaurants are also adding the ice cream to the menu while the Sweet Peaks trailers often frequent popular events, festivals and weddings, too. Sam and Marissa have already booked seven weddings this summer.
"We started small in our own kitchen coming up with recipes," Sam said, "and now it's evolved into this communitywide phenomenon for us."
That communitywide success has simply been the cherry on top.
"Everybody that comes through our doors is happy and everybody leaves happier," Marissa said. "That's the best part."
To stay up to date on Sweet Peaks new flavors, visit their Facebook page.
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