Maplewood residents are buzzing about Honey & Hive Artisanal Ice Cream at 1611 Springfield Avenue which opened in early August, bringing delicious, creamy house-made ice cream, creative flavors and refreshing sorbets — among other offerings — to the Hilton and College Hill neighborhoods.
Owners Kerel and Raquel [no last names, please, to preserve the kids anonymity] live in South Orange with their four school-age children, having relocated from Brooklyn about four years ago. “It’s been really nice and the community’s been really welcoming to us and we’ve just blended in with ease and grace,” Kerel told Village Green.
Despite being local residents, it was NOT a given that the shop would wind up in SOMA.
Kerel was looking seriously at locations in Hoboken and Jersey City. He credits Nicole Wallace of the Springfield Avenue Partnership — and a little bit of serendipity — for Honey & Hive landing in Maplewood. The space opened up at just the right time.
It’s also a complete change of career for Kerel and Raquel. He was a veterinary technician. She’s in interior design — a skill set that obviously played into the beautifully transformed interior that summons an old-style ice cream shop while simultaneously feeling fresh and modern. A collaboration with a local muralist @olgamuzician warms the space with lots of positive bee-centric visuals.
Why ice cream?
“So my wife and I, we’ve always been foodies and we just fell in love with the art of ice cream making. We started off with baking and trying out different ingredients,” said Kerel. “And then we decided ‘Hey, let’s make this thing into a business,’ because we love it so much and we couldn’t stop thinking about it — ‘We, we have to do this. This is our destiny.’ So we decided to actually pursue it in terms of setting up a brick and mortar. Our friends and family were like, ‘This is some good ice cream.’ And we’re like, ‘Okay, we believe you!'”
“It’s all homemade, all in-house,” he adds. “We use fresh ingredients and we use fresh milk and we try to have fun with our ingredients in order to allow that passion that we have and love for ice cream making to show in our work.”
And, boy, does it show.
Honey & Hive has fun and inventive flavors such as Meyer Lemon, Honey Lavender and Marionberry & Goat Cheese (a collaboration with Maplewood Wheelhouse at the General Store) as well as more standard flavors such as Fresh Mint Chip and Malted Milk Chocolate. Sorbets range from Lychee Pineapple, to Fresh Watermelon, to Strawberry Thai Basil, and more. H&H also sells candies and macarons to add to the suite of sweets.
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Honey & Hive joins a recent renaissance of retail on Springfield Avenue.
“Our vision for Springfield Avenue is to support a diverse business community that attracts residents to come and see what’s happening on the Avenue,” said Wallace, noting that Kerel and Raquel are joining a community of Black-owned businesses on the avenue. “Honey & Hive offers all that and more: local owners (welcome, Kerel and Raquel!), elevated design, delicious ice cream and desserts, and a new destination for our community.”
Current Township Committee member Vic De Luca — who is also a former mayor, Hilton resident, and a founder and former chair of the Springfield Avenue Partnership — sees Honey & Hive as a culmination of decades of planning, investment and work by the town and community.
“The opening of the ice cream shop is a dream come true,” said De Luca. “Twenty plus years ago, when we were visioning what Springfield Avenue could become, we planned for the area around Burnett to be a pedestrian-friendly zone where you could grab a coffee, get an ice cream cone or have a bite to eat. Those plans are falling into place with Honey & Hive, Peet’s Coffee and the various lunch places that have opened. Lum’s Cellar is a great addition and we are looking forward to the October opening of the Avenue Pub.”
De Luca noted that recent pedestrian and traffic safety improvements at Springfield and Burnett “will help make the area more inviting to those walking to and from the new stores.”
“Honey & Hive did a great job with their space, making it attractive and welcoming. They have become very popular since opening and offer quality ice cream for all tastes,” said De Luca. “It’s exciting to see the line of folks waiting to enjoy a cone or cup.”
Current hours of operation are Wednesday to Sunday, 1-9 p.m. Visit @honeyhiveicecream on Instagram for updates.