Chill on Park, an ice cream shop and cafe in Dorchester, is focused on community. Established in 2015, Chill on Park hires local teens, working closely with neighborhood organizations. We caught up with the owner, Wendy Issokson, who filled us in on what makes them special (hint: they offer many locally-sourced products).
Let’s start with the basics- how did Chill on Park begin?
We have always been very committed to Dorchester. My husband has a Real Estate and Insurance Company (H. Levenbaum) that was started by his grandfather in 1923. We have been active in the community and have strong ties with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, and College Bound Dorchester.
When the space became available in 2015, we wanted to create a business where we could employ local teens and create an atmosphere where people could come together to enjoy high quality, local products in a friendly atmosphere.
What is it about Dorchester that makes it great?
It is the people and the neighborhoods that make Dorchester great and special. Some families have lived in Dorchester for generations while at the same time, Dorchester welcomes new families. The proximity to Boston and the availability of housing for purchase or rent helps make Dorchester attractive to people moving here.
What makes Chill on Park special?
We start with our products, which are all locally-sourced. Our ice cream is from Puritan Ice Cream in Roslindale. Our coffee is from Karma Coffee in Sudbury, MA. Our bakery items are from Haley House in Roxbury. Our tea is from MEM tea in Watertown. We also sell pints of FoMu ice cream, and Coops hot fudge and salted caramel.
After our products, it is our staff and atmosphere. We welcome everybody to Chill on Park. Some come for the ice cream, others for the coffee. Some people come to Chill to meet with friends or for a business meeting. We offer free WiFi so many of our customers come to get some work done or study.
We hire locally, mostly through the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester and the Peace Institute. We are proud to be able to offer teens the opportunity to learn job skills. Many of our employees have been with us since the beginning.
We cater. Whether it’s a small office or school gathering or a larger group party, we are able to meet your catering needs for coffee, bagels, muffins and pastries. We also offer ice cream parties in our shop and cater ice cream parties off site as well. We offer reasonable prices, deliver, and can staff those parties if needed.
What’s the best part about owning a local business?
We personally enjoy the challenges of running a small business such as finding and marketing products that people will then come and buy. We also enjoy the connections with the community that we make via Chill on Park. We value our relationships with the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.
Every month we raise money for different local charities, concentrating on youth and education. We are proud to be surrounded with so many great organizations and enjoy supporting them. Check out our website for a list of the organizations that we have supported.
How do you develop relationships with your customers?
We are always looking to engage with our customers when they come into Chill on Park, finding out what they like or what their ideas are. We have several programs that we do for customers such as Family Night and Story Hour. Story Hour is done with the help of Boston Public Library (Fields Corner branch); the next one is coming up on October 20th.
In your free time, are there other local business you enjoy visiting?