Marc and Alissa Zera's new scoop shop, Off Track Ice Cream, is set to soft open (if everything goes according to plan) over Memorial Day weekend, with a grand opening planned for the following weekend.
The space at 6 Beaufain St., formerly occupied by a boutique, will be open seven days a week with upwards of 20 dairy ice creams, about six vegan options, plus cold brew shakes, "ice cream flights," and sundaes. They'll have Springbok cold brew and a variety of pastries, too.
Both born and bred Midwesterners, Marc and Alissa moved to Charleston in August 2018 after leaving corporate jobs in NYC. "We were looking for a transition out," explains Alissa. The couple had been making ice cream as a hobby for a few years, with Marc even popping up on weekends at his friend's Bronx restaurant, Gun Hill Tavern. "We got a little bit of a cult following."
Alissa says she's always been passionate about the quality of food she eats, and the quality of what is readily available. "It's been lost in so many areas," she says, pointing to the pints you see in grocery stores, with ingredient labels full of soy lectin and xanthan gum. The couple always had Charleston as landing place in mind, Alissa noting that the "food culture here is perfect for what we're looking to do."
What they're looking to do in their renovated 2,100 square foot building — with 19th century original brick walls and the frame of an elevator shaft uncovered during the reno — is to make real ice cream with only four ingredients.
The dairy option will be made of milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. And Vegans can enjoy an ice cream with coconut cream, cashews, sunflower oil, and cane sugar.
Flavors will include real, fresh ingredients. "We were making our ice cream this way and it was so exciting to us," says Marc. "It tasted so amazing and rich and clean."
While most ice cream shops are designed so the patrons can scoop up and get the hell outta dodge, the Zeras are hoping people will stick around, enjoy the 40+ seats inside (plus free WiFi), and try those nifty ice cream flights (four scoops served in engraved wooden paddles, just like at a brewery).
After the soft opening with limited hours (follow them on Instagram
for the latest), the Zeras say they'll be open Sun.-Wed. from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Thurs.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. They're hoping for solid spring/summer traffic, even though they're a bit off the main King thoroughfare. "You know, when we were looking a lot of people told us 'oh it's hidden,' we almost didn't look to get it, unsure if we'd be able to get enough traffic," says Alissa.
And, as the name implies, the shop is a bit off track, tucked around the corner of the (comparably) quiet stretch of King. But the couple is confident in their product, and excited to share local, seasonal ingredients in the most universally beloved form: a home-made waffle cone. "You're getting local ice cream from local purveyors," says Marc. "Working with farmers and purveyors, it's been a fun way for us to get involved in the Charleston community, we've met so many people here."