Ice cream, mini-golf bring a taste of summer to Millville Boardwalk
Summer may be months away, but the folks at the Millville Boardwalk are already churning ice cream and baking treats for customers.
Agape Creamery — part of the Millville Boardwalk complex on Route 26 next to McCarthy Stone — is open Thursday through Sunday throughout the winter months, and its owners are anxious for locals to try out their “small-batch” ice cream flavors.
The name “Agape,” pronounced “ah-GAH-pay” refers to the type of love Christians know as “God love,” a deep, spiritual feeling of love and charity — which has special meaning for the McCarthy family, whose faith is deeply imbedded in their business philosophy.
Zach McCarthy said the word “agape” — as in “mouth wide open” — also applies, as in what happens when one eats ice cream.
The Boardwalk also includes space for another shop, a pavilion that can be reserved for parties and a miniature-golf course. An existing building behind the golf course is slated to become an arcade, according to Joe Garner, part of the Millville Boardwalk team, which also includes Michael and Patty McCarthy, as well as their son and daughter-in-law Zach and Kim McCarthy, and Marina Travalini.
“We really put a lot of thought into pretty much everything we have here,” Garner said.
Much effort has been put into adding authentic nautical and beach details to the property to carry out the “boardwalk” theme. Benches in the ice cream shop are made from reclaimed pieces of wood that were once part of the Bethany Beach boardwalk.
A Tilghman Island, Md., “dead-rise” boat, with its iconic long, low profile, sits permanently moored in front of the building, which itself boasts a lighthouse as part of its architecture. In the mini-golf course, a lifeguard stand from Bethany Beach and a Cape May, N.J., rescue boat from earlier days are highlights of the course décor. Native plantings have been used throughout the course as well, Garner said.
Some retired, but still colorful, kayaks propped at the back of the course saw plenty of action in their former life with Eco Bay Tours.
Near the miniature-golf course is a grassy area where visitors will be able to play lawn games, such as cornhole, Garner said.
“I think we’ve come up with a beautiful and very functional product,” he said.
And that’s not even including the ice cream itself. Inside the shop, Zach McCarthy oversees the production of the small-batch operation — 16 flavors, some of which are still in the development stage, will be rotated through the ice cream case.
“We’ll try something based on an inspiration, or because we’ve got some fun ingredients to play with,” McCarthy said.
Current flavors range from standard vanilla to “Oh Snap,” which incorporates gingerbread baked by Patti McCarthy, who locals and visitors may know for her Just Desserts bakery, which operated in Millville for about 10 years. Her baking skills will be spotlighted in the new shop as well, her son said.
In addition to the homemade add-ins, fruits from local orchards will be used when they’re in season, Zach McCarthy said. They’re even serving coffee roasted by Local Coffee Co. owners Tyler and Jenni Valliant of Roxana.
The local ties also extend to the artwork on the walls of the shop, a bright ice-cream mural painted by area artist Liz Sexton.
Garner said Millville Boardwalk will begin hiring seasonal help in early spring, for a total of 10 to 12 employees between the ice-cream shop and the mini-golf course. He said they are currently looking for a food purveyor for the second shop space.
The Millville Boardwalk’s owners hope it becomes a place for locals, as well as visitors, to gather, Garner said. Weekly “specials” will include a new ice cream flavor debuted each Friday, as well as “Thirsty Thursday” milkshake specials and “Sundae Sundays.”
They are also planning to bring in events, such as arts and crafts days, in cooperation with other local businesses, and to offer party packages.
Winter hours for the Agape Creamery are 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday. The Millville Boardwalk is located at 35287 Atlantic Avenue, Millville. For more information, go to the Millville Boardwalk website at www.millvilleboardwalk.com, call (302) 539-1548 or visit the Millville Boardwalk page on Facebook.
By Kerin Magill