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The Moo on Mission is now serving ice cream in South Pasadena

A slice of boysenberry pie with organic triple milk ice cream at the newly opened Moo on Mission in South Pasadena.
A slice of boysenberry pie with organic triple milk ice cream at the newly opened Moo on Mission in South Pasadena.
(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times )

For fans of ice cream, the corner of Mission Street and Meridian Avenue in South Pasadena has long been a comfort zone. For years, it’s been where locals ordered scoops of Fosselman’s at Buster’s, the neighborhood cafe, coffee and ice cream shop which has operated for the last 30 years in a two-story brick building on that corner. So when Buster’s was recently sold — right before what promises to be a very hot, ice cream-necessary summer — locals were understandably worried. Thankfully, the cessation of ice cream was short-lived. Karen Klemens, who’s been making stellar ice cream at her Sierra Madre shop Mother Moo since 2011, has taken over the location for her second shop. The Moo on Mission soft-opened last night.

“Talk about a landmark institution,” said Klemens yesterday of both Buster’s and its 100-year-old building. “I used to take my son there when he was little because he was into trains.” The Gold Line tracks are just feet from the corner of the building, and the South Pasadena Metro station is on the other side of the street. “It was like it was meant to be; it’s a gorgeous space.”

Klemens hasn’t changed the feel of the little shop, which has colorful tiles on the floors, striped awnings, a large mural, and café tables and chairs both inside and out on the sidewalk and corner patio. A large red-and-white staircase leads to the second floor, which now has a wooden communal table — and a life-size polka dot cow that Klemens found on Craigslist.

The life-size cow upstairs at the new Moo on Mission in Pasadena
The life-size cow upstairs at the new Moo on Mission in Pasadena
(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times )
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“Ice cream is a happy business,” says Klemens, about both cow and café. Behind the downstairs counter is a three-pull La Marzocca for the new Equator coffee program. There are the many Mother Moo ice cream flavors made in the Sierra Madre production kitchen — orange blossom and cardamom, salty chocolate, raw honey, salted Meyer lemon, organic cornflakes, organic triple milk — plus a case filled with cookies, jams, brittles and pies, which Klemens and her bakers make using an all-butter crust, organic flour from Central Milling and farmers market fruit.

Which means, of course, that you can start your day with an espresso and a wedge of Meyer lemon cream pie or boysenberry pie à la mode. Maybe both.

And now that she has two kitchens, Klemens will be expanding her pie program, as well as adding a savory breakfast and lunch menu for the South Pasadena shop. There are also milkshakes and affogatos and root beer floats, plus ice cream sandwiches and popsicles in a large freezer case, if you like dessert for lunch too.

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Keeping the neighborhood feel is important to Klemens, a Chicago native who has lived in Pasadena for 22 years. (Her husband was a court reporter who came to Los Angeles to cover the O.J. Simpson trial; the family never left.)

“Ice cream is so saturated right now,” she says about the recent proliferation of ice cream shops in Los Angeles. Thus she was looking to expand to Whittier when a customer came into her Sierra Madre shop and told her about the three sisters who owned Buster’s wanting to sell. “I sent them an email.” The Moo on Mission opened three months later.

The Moo on Mission, now serving ice cream in the old Buster's location in South Pasadena.
The Moo on Mission, now serving ice cream in the old Buster’s location in South Pasadena.
(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times )

The Moo on Mission is open every day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Fridays. 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena, (626) 441-0744, www.mothermoo.com.

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