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Ample Hills Founders Bow Out of Hit Ice Cream Chain After Bankruptcy Sale

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The chain’s new owner plans to reopen some NYC locations soon

Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith
Ample Hills founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

The founders of quirky Brooklyn-based ice cream shop Ample Hills are leaving the company following a difficult bankruptcy sale this year, the former owners announced on Ample Hills’s Instagram account. Brooklyn Paper first reported the news.

Founders Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith said in the statement posted to Instagram that “many people” involved with the business lost money due to mistakes that the founders made, and they personally have “lost everything we’d worked for over these last ten years.”

Ample Hills declared bankruptcy in March following unsurmountable financial complications stemming from a giant, 15,000-square-foot ice cream factory that the couple opened in Red Hook in 2018. “The factory was not at capacity, took a lot more money to build, and more time to become operational,” the couple said in the statement.

They had hoped to find a buyer for the company who would be able to manage the finances while they stayed on in creative leadership roles, Cuscuna and Smith told Eater in April. Ultimately, the business was sold for $1 million to Schmitt Industries, a manufacturing company based in Oregon. Most of the money from the sale went to paying down bank loans, the founders say.

The CEO of Schmitt Industries declined to comment in detail to the Brooklyn Paper on why the founders left, saying generally that, “Ample Hills will honor the brand they have built and always appreciate advice and suggestions from them and certainly wish them luck with their personal and professional future.”

The new owner plans to soon reopen most of the nine locations it bought, including scoop shops in Gowanus, Red Hook, Astoria, Chelsea, and Jersey City.

Cuscuna and Smith started Ample Hills from a pushcart in Brooklyn in 2010, and grew the well-liked brand over the past decade to include a dozen NYC locations, a shop inside Disney World in Florida, and a short-lived Los Angeles flagship. Customers flocked to the shops for inventive, kooky flavors like “Boozy Breakfast,” a mocha ice cream incorporating a stout from a local Brooklyn brewery and oatmeal cookie crumbles, and the honey cinnamon blend “Nectar of the Queens,” studded with baklava bits.

From their personal Instagram account, the founders released another statement that hinted at potential new projects as they “start from scratch” after departing from Ample Hills.

“We know the next chapter will be even more of a challenge,” they said. “After the mourning is over, we will most definitely forge ahead.”

Ample Hills Factory

421 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 Visit Website

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