How a retired couple became the proprietors of a neighborhood ice cream parlor

By Geri L. Dreiling

The tale of Tower Grove Creamery is a sweet story.

David and Beulah Ann McCreery own the Tower Grove Creamery, located on the corner of Arsenal and Grand in St. Louis. Beulah Ann is a retired second grade school teacher. David was an underwriter in the insurance business. For 30 years, they’ve owned the commercial building that houses Tower Grove Creamery. Other well known tenants in building include Mokabe’s Coffeehouse and Dunaway Books.

“We had no intention of being in the ice cream business,” David explained to me last week.

Occasionally, I stop by the store with my kids for ice cream. I was curious about the friendly couple who I always seemed to see behind the counter.

McCreery

David says a previous tenant who had an ice cream parlor vacated the visible corner location. Over the years, payday lenders and traffic ticket law firms have made overtures about renting the space, but it wasn’t what the couple had in mind for the spot. Then Beulah Ann suggested that they open up an ice cream store. It was 2010. The economy was rough. David’s response at the time: “Are you crazy?”

As he recalled the story last week, he grinned and added, “You see who won out.”

Entrance

They devised a plan. They would get the store up and running and, after a year, they’d look for a nice family to take it over. That was four years ago.

Two Missouri dairies, Central Dairy and Pacific Valley Dairy supply the ice cream. After David noticed that the lines at a frozen yogurt store were often longer than those at an ice cream store in University City, he decided they needed to include frozen yogurt as part of the store’s offerings.

Counter

Frozen Yogurt

They created a bright and welcoming space. On any given day, you’ll find families with small children gathered around cheerful yellow tables and couples with their dogs seated at the tables outside. You might even catch a bridal party climbing out of a limo and clambering inside to order ice cream to go.

The store isn’t just about ice cream, it is about relationships. A television is  mounted above the front door and photos scroll across the screen. As each image flashes by, David tells the stories behind the pictures. Customers have proposed marriage at Tower Grove Creamery. Kids throw birthday parties in the space. Bicyclists stop in after a ride in Tower Grove Park. Diners who have finished a meal at one of South Grand’s many restaurants walk over for dessert.  Out-of-towners and suburbanites visiting family members at nearby Saint Louis University Hospital or Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital order ice cream to take back to their loved ones. 

In a world dominated by chain restaurants, Tower Grove Creamery is a refreshing grandmom-and-grandpop ice cream parlor. It is likely that you’ll find David scooping out ice cream for customers while Beulah Ann works at the cash register. Their daughter-in-law spends one day  a week working there. And their granddaughter, who the couple proudly note just graduated with honors from college and spoke during commencement, helps with social media.

David says that they opened the store and a year went by. He mentioned to Beulah Ann that it was time to find a nice family to take over the store.

Her response?

“We are a nice family, aren’t we?”

Yes, they most certainly are.

Have you visited the Tower Grove Creamery? Do you prefer ice cream or frozen yogurt? To find out more, you can follow them on Facebook or visit their website.

Ice Cream Vendor