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Food

Scoops, an ice cream shop known for innovative flavors, will close in East Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 2, 2015: Scoops ice cream is a popular neighborhood hangout on Heliotrope on
Scoops ice cream on Heliotrope Drive in East Hollywood on on April 2, 2015
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Food Columnist

Fifteen years ago, a typical run for ice cream — Baskin Robbins or Haagen-Dazs — would yield an equally typical flavor selection: Vanilla, butter pecan, maybe mint chocolate chip if you were feeling crazy.

It’s a different ice cream landscape today, thanks in no small part to Scoops — a shop that laid the groundwork for Los Angeles’ recent ice cream resurgence. Starting in 2005, Scoops started serving off-beat small-batch flavors including burnt sugar, Guinness chocolate, coconut-Oreo, as well as its ubiquitous and much-loved brown bread ice cream, which is flavored with Grape Nuts cereal. On June 25, owner Tai Kim will close Scoops’ first location, which opened as a one-man operation in 2005 on Heliotrope Drive near Melrose Avenue in East Hollywood.

Kim cited rising rent and a July 1 minimum-wage increase to $14.25 per hour as contributing to his decision to close the East Hollywood store.

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Kim located the Heliotrope space nearly 15 years ago and took it because of the affordable price — $1,500 per month. “It was the cheapest location besides Compton at the time,” Kim said. Along with outfits such as the Bicycle Kitchen and Pure Luck vegan restaurant, Scoops led a mini-renaissance of small, locally owned businesses on the relatively lightly trafficked corner, sandwiched between Los Angeles City College and the 101 Freeway.

A graduate of CalArts and the Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu), Kim developed wide-ranging flavors: hazelnut marsala wine, mango wasabi and cigar coffee. He was known for soliciting flavor suggestions from customers by way of a whiteboard on the wall, some of which — such as mascarpone balsamic — led to the development of actual ice creams.

The closing will leave three remaining Scoops locations: Highland Park, Chinatown and Palms. Kim said he plans to have a new location at the Nijiya Market on West 182nd Street in Torrance up and running by next month.

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lucas.peterson@latimes.com

Twitter: @lucaspeterson


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