Friday, December 6, 2013
When Karen Morgan and her family were trying to decide what kind of business they wanted to open, ice cream seemed like a natural fit for the Portland-area comedian, who also goes by the coveted title “Maine’s Funniest Mom.”
“First of all, ice cream: Everyone’s happy,” Morgan said, explaining why they decided to open Captain Sam’s, the new ice cream parlor at 136 Commercial St.
“I’m not a cook but I do love sweets,” she said. “As long as I don’t have to use fire in any way…”
Morgan and her husband, Scott Lindsay, also wanted to do something that would allow them to spend more time with their three children and give the kids some experience as entrepreneurs.
“This is something we can do as a family – work a little, play a little,” Lindsay said. “And this is something that will give them some responsiblity as they grow into jobs.”
It’s working: Son Mac, 10, likes to run the register and is learning to make change; Axel, 13, prefers scooping ice cream for customers; and Sabra, 11, likes helping her mother make the 16 flavors they carry in the store.
“They have been a big part of planning the business, and we have included them in decision making,” Morgan said. “It’s been a nice learning experience for them.”
The name Captain Sam’s was created by linking together the children’s first initials. The kids, of course, had other suggestions, some of which show that they inherited their mother’s sense of humor. “Cranky Yankee” and “Lick Me” did not make the cut.
The family decided their logo would be this pirate:
Although it could be argued that the cute little alligator holding an ice cream cone outside the store steals the show:
The pirate even has a pirate ship:
Morgan went to New York to learn how to make ice cream, and says she’s gotten a lot of help from local ice cream makers. She makes the ice cream for Captain Sam’s every morning on site.
Adult cones and cups at Captain Sam’s start at $3.50 and come in flavors like Black Fly Raspberry, Ricotta and Fig, and Pralines and Cream, a nod to Morgan’s hometown of Athens, Georgia. The 16 flavors will rotate regularly.
Morgan will be adding other flavors influenced by her southern roots, including a flavor called Kentucky Derby Pie that starts with a chocolate base and includes pecans, chocolate chips, caramel and bourbon. She also plans a Key Lime Pie Flavor and a Cherry Amaretto.
(The old photo hanging on the wall of Captain Sam’s pictures Morgan’s grandfather and great uncles churning ice cream on the porch at their home in Georgia.)
Morgan said she’s also basing flavors on things she already likes – like chocolate-covered pretzels, which she threw into a batch of toffee ice cream. And she’s not afraid to try something new, like Stout ice cream.
“I will always have a southern flavor on the menu,” Morgan said. “I went to Georgia for my pecans. I went to Georgia for my pralines. I went down with the kids in April and went to visit the place where I’m actually buying the pecans from. When we started this, I said what I want to make is a high-quality product, and I want to know where the things come from. I now know the sisters who own the place we buy the pecans from, and that makes me feel good in terms of a business owner. I know what I’m getting.”
She’s also using a lot of the Schlotterbeck & Foss flavorings from Portland, and ordering in Madagascar vanilla.
If you want just a taste of a particular flavor, Captain Sam’s sells a “Sammy Scoop” for $1. This cute little cone has customers saying “Awwww.” (The regular-sized cone on the left is salty caramel; the Sammuy Scoop is filled with toffee nougat.)
The shop will also sell frappes, sundaes (starting at $4.25) and Italian ice in three sizes (small $2.50).
A homemade ice cream “Sammich” is $4.75, and a brownie sundae is $5.75. A small bourbon pecan pie a la mode goes for $6. (The little pies come from Two Fat Cats bakery on India Street.)
Here's Scott Lindsay manning the counter:
Right now the store is open from 11 a.m. to about 8 p.m., or 10 p.m. on the weekends. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, summer hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Morgan says they plan to stay open through Christmas. Cakes and pies will be for sale year round.
“Sabie and I will be making ice cream cakes very soon,” Morgan said. “She’s more of the baker in the family.”
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs. A newcomer to Portland, she is an online content producer for the Press Herald.
Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod [at] pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @susansaxelrod