The Chocolate Moose will re-open in February, fulfilling a lifelong dream for its new proprietor. Despite a few minor changes, they say customers can expect the same quality of ice cream they have enjoyed for years.
The business, located at 401 S. Walnut St., has been a Bloomington staple for decades, though many feared it would become extinct last year when father and son owners Doran and Tim May closed its doors and began searching for new owners for both the property and the business.
New proprietors Jeff Grossnickle and his wife Joani arranged a two-year lease-purchase with the Mays: If the Grossnickles maintain the lease for that two-year span, Jeff Grossnickle said, they will own the business.
“(Tim May) wanted us to make sure we know what we’re getting in to,” he said.
Tim May said he chose to sell because the 14-hour days, seven days a week were becoming too much and he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his children, who are ages 16 and younger.
“It’s a very physical type of thing, and I’m just ready to do something else,” he said, adding that he will be around to help the new proprietors. “I’ll be helping, do some training and get them started.”
The Mays are still looking for someone to buy the property.
For Grossnickle, who worked for Doran May for eight years in the 1970s when the restaurant was named The Penguin, running The Chocolate Moose has always been a nostalgic dream.
“It’s a magical place, The Chocolate Moose,” he said. “I learned so much there about life and love, how to read people, how to treat people how they want to be treated.”
As for the menu, he doesn’t plan to cut anything, but he might add some new dishes, such as a vegan sandwich.
Patrons can expect longer hours, he said, and a flat-screen TV with speakers for customers waiting in line.
“It doesn’t need changed much.,” Grossnickle said. “It’s worked for a long time.”