Paul Tamburello chose Little Man as the name of his Highland ice cream shop because it was his father's nickname. The towering, milk-can-shaped kiosk stands as a reminder of an older, slower time in Denver's history — plus, it's just quirky and fun. Now Tamburello is ready to launch his second ice cream shop, and he's given it his mother's nickname. Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream & Confectionary will open at 3505 East 12th Avenue on Tuesday, February 14, just in time for Valentine's Day.
Sweet Cooie's will serve a variety of confections in addition to ice cream, all from a vintage-style parlor that culinary director Loren Martinez (who oversees all of the group's food enterprises, including Little Man and Adrift on South Broadway) says captures the style of Tamburello's mom, Elaine "Cooie" Tamburello. "We wanted it to reflect the type of lady that Paul's mom was," Martinez explains.
Designed by Xan Creative, the space is done up in shades of blue with antique brass accents and a marble countertop. An indoor/outdoor bar, also made of marble, is separated by a window that can be opened during warm weather so that customers can sit either outside facing into the shop or inside facing 12th Avenue. Crystal cake stands, glass display shelves and vintage light fixtures give the feeling of a 1920s soda shop. "Back then, you would see millwork carved by hand and hand-laid tile," Martinez says, noting that the details all add up to a warm, welcoming place where Elaine Tamburello would have felt at home.
The buildout, from what was previously a frozen-custard shop called the Daily Scoop, was extensive. Walls between the old kitchen and a small counter up front were removed to open up the entire main floor for additional seating, while a crawl space beneath the shop was dug out and turned into the new kitchen, where chocolate truffles, brioche doughnuts, eclairs and other confections will be made.
Those doughnuts will be turned into ice cream sandwiches — cut in half, filled with the customer's flavor choice and heated quickly in a sandwich press so that the doughnut is warm when served. Ice cream sandwiches will also be made on Scottish shortbread, eclairs and other sweet pastries. Malts, shakes and floats will round out the menu.
Like the orginal Little Man, Sweet Cooie's will be an active part of its community. "Our success at Little Man goes beyond the product," Martinez explains. "It's about knowing the schools, the police officers, the neighbors."
Sweet Cooie's will also participate in the Scoop for Scoop program started at Little Man, only instead of donating a scoop of rice or beans for each scoop of ice cream sold, an equivalent dollar amount will be donated to women's empowerment organizations locally and globally.
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The shop opens on Valentine's Day and will serve ice cream and confections from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Tamburello also has plans to open three more Little Man outposts: on West Colfax Avenue, at Eastbridge Stapleton and in Fort Collins.