Ice Cream Summer: Taking a lick at Chicken House on Gull Lake

Ice cream and summer are the perfect pairing. This summer, Southwest Michigan Second Wave invites you to explore the array of ice cream shops that Kalamazoo County has to offer in our series, Ice Cream Summer. To launch our series, we're sitting down with Paul Dykstra, a co-owner of Chicken House in Richland, to get the full scoop on their shop! 
What’s their history?
While the cottage-like building Chicken House a 12443 E. D. Avenue in Richland, has been an ice cream shop since the late 1960s, in April of 2020, Paul, along with his wife and co-owner Jennifer, reimagined the shack as a dual-purpose chicken and ice cream stand.
The establishment; located at the southern end of Gull Lake.Perched at the southern end of Gull Lake, the restaurant serves southern-style chicken sandwiches featuring Michigan-made ingredients. Along with premier Crystal Hot Sauce and Duke's Mayonnaise, they also serve tacos. Dykstra notes that the business effortlessly transitions between a “funky, cool chicken place during the day and an ice cream place at night.” Food service might stop at four, but luckily ice cream is dished up into the evening!
Why ice cream?
For Dykstra, the history of the shop, coupled with its prime location on the banks of Gull Lake, along with the vibrant summer community it serves, made ice cream an obvious choice. 
What makes their ice cream the best?
We get our ice cream from Plainwell Ice Cream—the premier ice cream in Southwest Michigan.” Dykstra notes that they’ve cultivated a lasting relationship with the iconic ice cream business, first using Plainwell Ice Cream at their Italian-inspired restaurant Kitchen House, 9975 M-89 in Richland, before serving it up at their newer establishment. 
How does the business engage with the community?
“We have focused one hundred percent of our philanthropy on the Gull Lake Community Schools,” says Dykstra. GLCS is a cause close to the couple's hearts as both of their sons attend school within the district. Chicken House helps with fundraisers, provides donations to Grad Bash (a parent-sponsored party for graduating seniors), and occasionally supports Gull Lake Little League. Dykstra highlights the natural synergy between the school district and Chicken House, as many of the employees are local high schoolers, creating “a natural relationship” between the shop and the schools. “They frequent our businesses so we give a lot back to them.”

Chicken House supports Gull Lake Schools by employing high schoolers and participating in fundraisers.
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Read more articles by Sam Kapp.

Sam Kapp is an independent historian with a passion for the environment. Sam graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2021. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy since 2018. New to Southwest Michigan, Sam is eager to immerse himself in his new community and its natural wonders.