Charlie's Ice Cream Social will start socializing next week, and host a grand opening May 19

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When Matt and Rosemary Lopez saw that the former Heavenly Cakes space next door to Taza de Cafe, the coffee shop they've run on West 44th Avenue for six years, was available, they thought it would be perfect Charlie's Ice Cream Social, a '30's- and '40's-style soft serve ice cream parlor they'd been thinking about creating for a couple of years.

Their idea was to get a three-flavor soft-serve ice cream machine, plus syrups and mix-ins, which the couple would use to create an array of shakes, ice cream sodas, ice cream sandwiches, dipped cones and Twisters, which are a blend of ice cream, cookies, candies and syrups swirled together in a machine. And they envisioned such flavors as s'mores and strawberry shortcake, as well as other options. "We're drawing inspiration from Hostess products," says Matt. "We're going to a Hostess Snoball-inspired shake with sponge cake, cherries, coconut and chocolate ice cream." There will also be a Twinkie blend.

When the Lopezes began construction on the new spot at the beginning of February, Matt predicted that Charlies would be open by the first week of May. And he wasn't far off the mark, though an equipment issue did push the opening back a few days. "We are getting our soft-serve machine this week," he explains. "It was out for repair for about three weeks." Once it's reinstalled, he and Rosemary will move in the rest of their gear and then they'll just have to wait for an inspection, which Matt says should allow them to have a soft opening next week.

And they definitely plan to have Charlie's running at full speed by May 19. "We're having a grand opening party," says Matt. "It's a fundraiser, and we'll be serving all-you-can-eat ice cream for $5." The proceeds will go to the Society for Mutual Protection of United Workers, an organization that, traditionally, was a Spanish-speaking labor union. "I'm a member," Matt explains. "We have a scholarship program, and I started a new fund for school supplies for underprivileged kids. All proceeds will go to those supplies."

The pair has also booked the Reveille 3, an Andrews Sisters cover group, for entertainment that day.

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