The Ice Cream Stand

Bringing Syracuse Year-round Sweetness

By Lorna Oppedisano | Photography by Steven J. Pallone 

About three years ago, Central New York native Amanda Hughes discovered a new favorite spot in her hometown: Clinton Square.

Amanda had returned home after attending college at Duke University and earning an MBA in marketing from LIU Brooklyn. She wasn’t sure of her next step, but found herself drawn to that area.

“There’s obviously something really beautiful, but there was something about the space that was so peaceful to me,” she said. “It was a great place to just collect my thoughts and be, with everything else that was going on — with the transition, moving back home and figuring out what’s next.”

Now, a few years later, the entrepreneur calls downtown home and recently opened The Ice Cream Stand at 200 W. Water St., giving Amanda, her employees and her customers a year-round view of Clinton Square.

When she initially moved back to Syracuse, Amanda hadn’t expected to stay. But then, she had an opportunity to open The Ice Cream Stand at its original North Syracuse location. Coming from a family of business owners, Amanda always expected to eventually run her own business.

“When you grow up with that kind of experience and that’s what you’re seeing, it’s pretty powerful, from a lot of different perspectives,” she said.

While it’s a lot of responsibility, it’s a burden she enjoys bearing, Amanda said, adding she wouldn’t trade the schedule flexibility for anything.

After two successful seasons of The Ice Cream Stand at the original location, she started getting offers to open in downtown Syracuse. Amanda was honored people thought the eatery would be a good addition to the growing downtown community — a community she supported and loved — but wasn’t sure about the move right
away. After all, for those first two seasons, she’d been learning business ownership from the ground up.

Eventually, after the opportunity presented itself a few times, she agreed to simply look at the space.

When she walked in, she was met with a simple room, stripped down to bare bones — no walls, no floor, just wide open space.

And then, Clinton Square came into view.

“I just had this feeling. I could see it all,” Amanda said. “I knew I was supposed to be here. I think things happen for a reason. When I walked in and I saw it, I thought, ‘Oh, OK, I get it.’”

Once she ran the numbers and realized it was a feasible next step, it was just about making it happen and “getting to the finish line,” she said.

Her original goal was to open last fall, but once the moving pieces were set in motion, she realized spring of 2018 would be more realistic.

All the while, the community was behind her.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive and the community’s been so supportive and just really excited about our presence, which just feels really great,” she said.

The Ice Cream Stand opened May 4, the weekend of the downtown Crawfish Festival and just about month before the Taste of Syracuse. One advantage of the space is the proximity not only to summer festivals, markets and concerts, but also the ice skating rink and tree lighting during the winter.

While the new location still has a lot of moving pieces to work out, Amanda’s been thrilled with the opportunity to partner and work with other local businesses. With the exception of the hard ice cream, which comes from a family-owned business in Maine, all other products are locally sourced.

In the coming months, Amanda plans to add more menu items, additional signage and decor. High on the priority list is outdoor seating, as well. Additionally, she plans to continue a partnership with KMase Products for the KMase & Cones summer music series.

Having put her marketing background to good use in creating The Ice Cream Stand, one might assume Amanda would have her heart set on opening more locations. But that’s actually something she specifically doesn’t plan to do.

She’d rather have time to work on other projects to enliven Central New York and put her all into this location.

“That’s the fun thing for me,” Amanda said, “really taking this to the next level.” SWM

The Ice Cream Stand is located at 200 W. Water St. in downtown Syracuse. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Connect with the shop via email at [email protected], phone at 315-458-4848, or online at