BELFAST, Maine — Friends and customers gave the downtown ice cream shop Scoops and Crepes a sweet sendoff Wednesday night as owner Karen Rak filled her final ice cream cones and whipped up one last savory treat in the kitchen.
After seven years of business, Rak, 70, decided about a week ago to close her shop and sell off the ice cream stock and restaurant equipment.
“It is an absolutely unbelievable amount of hard physical labor,” she said. “I want my life back.”
The Main Street business has long been a favorite among locals, who appreciated its stacks of board games, the wall of brightly colored caricatures of Belfast residents and the homemade gelato and delicious Round Top ice cream on the menu.
“I’ve basically always come here,” said Soren Moesswilde, 13, of Belfast. “It’s got the best stuff.”
Soren said he usually goes to Scoops after baseball games and also likes playing board games there.
“It stinks it’s closing,” he said. “It’s such a good place.”
Joanne Moesswilde, his mom, was buying some Scoops memorabilia from Rak, who is selling almost everything — though not the caricatures.
“I think that it is a wonderful institution,” Moesswilde said. “It encourages family — good, clean fun. I’m really sad they’re closing.”
On the last night of business, the store filled with customers who wanted to treat themselves and also to say goodbye. Rak turned up the stereo, and two customers launched into an impromptu waltz to a big-band song while two others played a last game of checkers at one of the tables.
“From my point of view, everybody came in with a smile,” Rak said from behind the counter.
“And left with a smile, too,” Moesswilde responded.
The whole business is for sale, Rak said, because she is exhausted by working 12-hour days, seven days a week. Although the number of part-time employees varies seasonally, at one point this summer she signed 22 paychecks.
“It is an awesome place,” she said. “I’m very proud of it.”
Jim and Patti LeClair, who own and operate the Maine Coast Welcome Center, rented space to Rak for a Scoops outlet in their Route 1 business.
“It was great,” Jim LeClair said. “Ice cream was a perfect fit. The local people all knew the Scoops name, and it serviced a lot of people that were traveling back and forth this way.”
Rak said that after she hangs up her Scoops apron for good, she will retire to her Brooksville cabin.
“I’m going to look at the water and write books,” she said.
Although Scoops and Crepes has closed, Rak said that during the first week of November, she will be selling more restaurant equipment and the rest of the furnishings. If any ice cream remains, it will be sold for half price, she said.
Even though customer Barry Crawford of Monroe said he has recently sworn off sugar, he ordered a sundae that was dripping with whipped cream and hot fudge sauce, just for old times’ sake.
“It was a social outlet for a lot of us,” he said.