Bakery, ice cream, realty, and embroidery businesses revitalize downtown Ypsi building

10 N. Washington St. in downtown Ypsi has sat mostly vacant since the beloved Go! Ice Cream closed in October, but new businesses are bringing the building back to life.
Though downtown Ypsilanti has suffered the loss of several beloved local businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic, four businesses, including three owned and operated by women, are revitalizing the building Go! Ice Cream recently vacated at 10 N. Washington St.

The businesses are Beara Bakes, owned by Cat Spencer; K&S Custom Embroidery, owned by sisters Kirstin Forster and Sarah Forster-Stronski; Investors Realty Group, headed by broker-owner Colleen Kennedy; and Cold Comfort Ice Cream, owned by Eric Farrell and Danielle Berridge.

At one point, K&S was the only business actively operating out of the building after Go! Ice Cream’s closure in October 2023. K&S is a small business specializing in screen-printed and embroidered apparel and accessories for fraternities and sororities. It grew out of Forster and Forster-Stronski's experience as Eastern Michigan University students and alumni.

In February 2024, Kennedy’s company was hired to manage the building and lease out the vacant suites. At first Kennedy wasn't convinced that the front office space next to K&S was the right home for her own business.
Doug CoombeInvestor Realty Group broker-owner Colleen Kennedy.
"When we first looked at the suite, it was pink and blue with streamers and a disco ball, and at first I thought it wasn't a good fit," Kennedy says. However, once she began looking at the "bones" of the building, she changed her mind.

"We spent probably a solid month or six weeks having all the work done, and then getting Beara Bakes all set up, and getting Cold Comfort into the building," Kennedy says. "We also installed HVAC on the roof, and we're having the front of the building fixed. It's been a whirlwind."

Next to take up residence was Beara Bakes in the back suite. Spencer has been running the bakery for about four years, evolving from a monthly bake sale to a pop-up to a focus on wholesaling goods to locally owned outlets like Roos Roast and Argus Cafe. She's been making her baked goods out of the Growing Hope incubator kitchen in downtown Ypsilanti for the past two years.

Spencer says that the whole time she's been evolving her business model, she's been looking for a brick-and-mortar space. She says she snagged the former Go! Ice Cream space with what "feels like pure dumb luck and a lot of patience."
Doug CoombeBeara Bakes owner Cat Spencer.
"[Beara Bakes] got to the point where we're now at max capacity, so we had to find something within the next year," Spencer says. 

When she heard that the ice cream store was shuttering its doors, she asked for a tour of the space on a whim. She decided it was the perfect place for her bakery since it already had much of the equipment she needed.

"That was absolutely amazing," Spencer says. "I'm not capable of building out my own commercial kitchen space right now."

She's been slowly moving equipment from the Growing Hope incubator to her new bakery, and hopes to open to the public by late July. She says she'll continue working with her loyal wholesale customers but also wants to cultivate the shop as a community gathering place.
Doug CoombeCold Comfort Ice Cream co-owner Eric Farrell.
"I am interested in creating a space where people can come in, get a little biscuit sandwich to go or a scone, and grab a cup of coffee, hang out for a few minutes, and chat," she says.

Farrell previously sold Cold Comfort ice cream out of The Bar at 327 Braun Court in Ann Arbor, which he owned from 2011 until its closing last month. As he moves his ice cream business to Ypsi, he also feels he lucked into the space that he and Berridge will take over.

He says he had no thoughts of moving into the space when he came to buy ice cream-making equipment from Go! Ice Cream owner Rob Hess. Farrell is friends with Spencer, who told him she was taking over the back suite.

"I said, 'So do you want a roommate?' The equipment that I bought from Rob didn't even leave the kitchen," Farrell says. "It was just a bizarre happenstance. It sounds like I planned this but I just stumbled ass backwards into it."
Doug CoombeCold Comfort Ice Cream co-owner Danielle Berridge.
Cold Comfort will focus on wholesale business rather than selling ice cream by the scoop, Berridge says. However, the business will also sell four- or six-ounce cups of ice cream to the general public through a window into the alley.

Farrell says he and Berridge are getting started in Ypsi later in the summer than they'd prefer. He thinks the business will be open to the public in late July. 

"But over the winter, we'll have some downtime and can do some research and development, getting ready to roll hard next year," he says.

Farrell says to expect frozen treats that will include some novelties, but mainly "custard-style ice cream with a large percentage of egg, because it adds richness." He says he and Berridge will use local ingredients when they can, like locally grown fruit and vegetables juice for frozen juice pops.
Doug CoombeCold Comfort Ice Cream onwers Eric Farrell and Danielle Berridge with their soon to be updated store sign.
Flavors will include classics like vanilla, but Farrell is also experimenting with flavors like jalapeño-based ice cream flavored with local peppers, studded with chocolate-covered tortilla chips.

Farrell says he and Berridge haven't had to market their wholesale business very much.

"People reach out to us and want to sell our stuff. We're flattered and hopeful," he says.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Beara Bakes baked good photos courtesy of Beara Bakes. All other photos by Doug Coombe.
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