McEwan Street Fudge & Ice Cream Shop eyes spring opening in downtown Clare

What’s happening: Local pharmacist and entrepreneur John Gross is preparing for an April opening of his latest business, the McEwan Street Fudge & Ice Cream Shop in downtown Clare. And while there’s still plenty of work to be done on the building’s renovations, a recent $25,000 grant awarded by the state should help him get that much closer to his goal for a spring opening. The grant comes as part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Match on Main program.

What’s planned: McEwan Street Fudge & Ice Cream Shop will feature premium hand-dipped ice cream and kettle fudge made on site. John Gross is also taking a cue from his children, who he says flock to the gelato shops when they vacation down south. He’ll use some of that Match on Main grant to purchase gelato-making equipment, bringing the Italian-style ice cream to his hometown in northern Michigan.

Backstory: If you’re from the area, chances are you might know John Gross or one of his businesses. Gross’s family owned a bowling alley in Clare for 25 years and he graduated from the high school here. He now lives somewhere in between Clare and Farwell, he says. He also owns five independent pharmacies, including Gateway Pharmacy in Clare and Eagle Pharmacy in Farwell. Following the closure of Clare Electronics at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gross purchased the building, realizing its prime location downtown on McEwan Street.

About that grant: The $25,000 grant comes as part of the MEDC’s Match on Main program. The grant itself was awarded to Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC), which applied on Gross’s behalf and then awarded him the grant in support of his renovating the vacant building. The MMDC was also successful in winning Match on Main grants for businesses in Evart, Harrison, and Mt. Pleasant — for June-Marie Essner, Hardy Insurance Agency, Inc., and Rock N Roll Dive Bar, Inc., respectively.

The application window for the next round of Match on Main grants opens on Monday, Jan. 30, up-to-date information of which can be found online.

Downtown momentum: “The marketing success of Cops & Doughnuts created a lot of foot traffic here and turned downtown Clare around. There’s all these people that stop in Clare — it’s a destination now — for Cops & Doughnuts. The proximity of my building to theirs was an opportunity,” says Gross. “We’re looking to open in the spring. We did get the grant to be able to do some renovations and renovations are going on right now. We’re planning on opening it up for people to be able to have ice cream and fudge come springtime, hopefully the first of April.”

McEwan Street Fudge & Ice Cream Shop is located at 511 McEwan St. in downtown Clare.

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