You know summer’s arrived when people start lining up at the Scottish Highland Creamery – even if this year it means social distancing, wearing masks, and paying by credit, debit, or Apple Pay.
Located in Oxford, at the end of Tilghman Street, the Creamery is opening for the 2020 season this weekend. Despite all the new changes brought on by the pandemic, one thing that will probably remain the same is that people will be coming by foot, bike, car, ferry, and boat to indulge in their “flavorite” ice cream.
Voted fan favorite in What’s Up magazine, the Creamery was founded in 2005 by Victor and Susan Barlow. Although the Barlows are (mostly) retired, they have partnered with Richard and Christine Leggett to keep the dream alive and growing.
Longtime fans, the Leggetts have had a home in Easton for over a decade and regularly brought their children to the Creamery. Richard Leggett recalls the day his wife phoned from the Creamery a few years ago, to tell him there was a notice about new ownership. When that deal fell through, the Leggetts reached out to a mutual friend for an introduction to the Barlows. They became friends and shortly after partners, sharing their vision for quality products and community connections.
Richard admits that he’s always had a passion for ice cream. He worked in ice cream shops as a teenager, and during summers throughout his college years. More recently, he invested in a small gelato company – Dolcezza – which is now a national brand, carried by Whole Foods.
“Victor and Susan built an amazing business and brand, so the most important thing is to protect that,” says Richard, explaining that their ice cream is handcrafted on-site, one gallon at a time.
“For me, one of the most fun parts of the business has been getting to know people in the community and all our employees,” says Christine. “It feels like a bit of a family, and I really enjoy that.” That family feeling is mutual. “It’s been a real honor to be asked to serve at weddings, birthdays, and even funerals,” says Richard. “Some people have written in their will, or left instructions, because the Creamery something they enjoyed sharing with friends.”
Seeing an opportunity to serve the community year-round, the Leggetts purchased the property at 102 S Morris Street in Oxford and, in November 2018, opened the Oxford Social Café. This historic building, formerly part of the Maryland Military and Naval Academy, has housed many businesses over the years: a hotel, barbershop, salon, dental office, yacht sales, and convenience store – complete with a soda fountain.
In addition to serving Scottish Highland Creamery ice cream (sold by the pint and quart) year-round, the Cafe feature Rise Up Coffee and Turnbridge Point Bakery.
Over the winter, they hosted a few well-received evening occasions. The building is in the process of being restored so the Café can host larger events in the main part, while the smaller wing of the building will serve as an office.
The Leggetts are excited to have both venues. The Creamery, co-located with Capsize restaurant, is a great location for service by the scoop, with folks (naturally) “on the go” during the summer. The Café, Richard notes, is a place where people come to sit and chat, so you really get to know them.
The Governor’s stay at home order interrupted operations for the Café, canceling the Creamery’s spring festivities for Oxford Day and the 15th-anniversary celebration. However, in response to overwhelming customer requests, the Leggetts quickly pivoted and began temporarily delivering quarts – along with meals by Blue Heron Catering – throughout the region.
Despite it being a logistical challenge, the Leggetts credit their General Manager, Kendall Gant, and Production Manager, Max Maiolini, who made frequent trips back to Oxford to restock. The Leggett’s boys, Henry & Harrison, served as navigators, plotting the best routes through St Michaels, Easton, Trappe, and Oxford.
Staff and fans alike look forward to the reopening of the Creamery this Memorial Day weekend. Gant, who started working at the Creamery 8 years ago, while she was still in high school, thinks she knows why this is such a popular establishment. “We have an amazing product, great staff and customers, and a mission that I can stand behind with 100% confidence. I love seeing the look on someone’s face when they’ve tried our ice cream for the first time or when they’ve just found their new favorite flavor.”
As for favorite flavors, Italian Lemon Cookie still tops the list. Biscotto, Coffee Heath Bar, and Butter Pecan are also in high demand. Of course, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are staples, but most customers split their order, getting 2 or 3 favorites together.
You can still get your scoops in person at the Scottish Highland Creamery, but expect some minor changes. The Creamery is taking a measured approach to ensure the safety of staff and customers. Orders will be taken at the menu board (rather than the window), and all orders will be filled in disposable cups (though you may ask for a cone on top). To minimize risks, samples won’t be available, and the seating area will also be closed. Feel free to walk around and enjoy the view while maintaining a distance of 6 feet, of course.
After the holiday weekend, the Creamery anticipates opening the last weekend in May and the first weekend of June, then hope to resume daily service after that.
Heather Hall is a Leadership Coach, Spiritual Director, and Storyteller through arts and crafts. Born and raised in Maryland, she spent 22 years in Alaska, working in environmental service. She recently returned to the Shore and resides in Oxford.
Photos courtesy of Richard Leggett