Walking into Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café, located on North Michigan Road, is a lot like stepping into your grandma’s kitchen – the aromas, the pies in the oven, the leather couch and lounge chairs, the fireplace ablaze and the view onto the pond. Everything is neat and clean, and the table is set with ceramic plates and silverware.
It’s the holidays at Homemade Café.
Charles Hensley, chief executive officer of Homemade Cafés, LLC, says he’s glad customers feel that way. He’s also happy the new Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café has turned out to be a great new addition to the chain of successful businesses.
“We opened on August 2, 2021,” Hensley says. “Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café [homemadecafes.com] is a brand-new concept. Many people are starting to call us ‘Homemade.’ We tried to create a brand that kept all the very popular dessert products from our Pie Kitchen concept [piekitchen.com] that has been operating in Louisville for over 30 years. We wanted to combine it with a menu of quality soups, salads and sandwiches based on what we learned when we brought McAlister’s Deli to central Indiana back in 2003.”
Hensley adds that until his team sold their McAlister’s Deli restaurants in 2015, the deli concept was extremely popular, with a wide variety of quality products that people enjoyed, combined with an emphasis on friendly service.
“We wanted to combine the best of those two brands – a popular assortment of great food products mixed with quick and friendly service – and operate the concept out of a very comfortable bakery cafe environment,” Hensley says. “We think we accomplished our goals.”
The Zionsville/Carmel/Village of WestClay location on the Michigan Road retail corridor fits in perfectly with the company’s future plans.
“Zionsville is a great place to conduct business, with very favorable residential and business demographics,” Hensley says. “The quality of the area, combined with the favorable attributes of the specific location, were instrumental in making the decision to open in Zionsville.”
Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café can be somewhat hard to see from Michigan Avenue traveling north or south. Just focus on the east side of the road while approaching Weston Pointe Drive and Michigan Road.
Hensley believes customers will appreciate the wide variety of menu options at Homemade.
“I think what people will grow to enjoy from their local Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café is the variety and quality of baked goods and desserts that you don’t find in a normal bakery or grocery store,” Hensley says. “It’s like seeing jewelry in a jewelry store when you walk into our store, and immediately see our glass display cases full of fresh-made fruit and meringue pies, layer cakes, cookies and pastries.”
Homemade has trained bakers who are busy working in front of guests, keeping the display cases full of fresh desserts and the atmosphere filled with delicious aromas.
“The bakers designed their recipes to resemble what your grandmother may have made back in a time when baking in the home was more commonplace,” Hensley says. “I remember my mother making tasty chocolate meringue pies for special occasions, or my grandmother always having an apple or blueberry pie on the counter to enjoy. Homemade offers items that you can’t find everywhere. If you want a loaf of bread or a doughnut, you won’t find it at Homemade. We offer those items that you enjoy but seem to never find time to make yourself.”
The Homemade staff simply wants to produce food and desserts that are affordable, taste great, are consistent, and remind customers of home and family.
“Although the prices we pay for our quality ingredients and skilled labor seem to be increasing daily, we have engineered our products with the hope to keep prices affordable for our guests,” Hensley says.
Homemade is also a very cozy place.
“We designed the restaurant to be a comfortable place to sit and relax by yourself, in a lounge chair, in front of the fireplace or with family, eating on our patio overlooking the pond,” Hensley says. “Our Zionsville store has a large folding door that can open up to the patio when the weather cooperates. We hope the smell of fresh-baked cookies, pies or croissants creates a pleasant environment to enjoy your slice of pie, coffee, or soup and sandwich.”
Hensley says the desserts are very popular.
“Our top seller at our Pie Kitchen stores in Louisville is the Caramel Dutch Apple pie,” he says. “You can ask for it to be heated and include a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It will become one of your favorites. People enjoy our Chocolate, Coconut, and Lemon Meringue pies. Our cakes have been very popular.”
Hensley adds that the ice cream is as close to homemade as customers will find.
“We make it just like your grandfather may have made it, with milk, cream and sugar,” he says. “We don’t include eggs like our competitors. As a result, the texture is still very creamy but slightly icier than others serve. I happen to enjoy it more than the heavy ice cream that others serve.”
Hensley stresses that Homemade’s menu is new.
“The Chicken Croissant sandwich is very popular as well as the French Dip,” Hensley says. “I don’t want to use the standard slices of roast beef for our French Dip. I prefer the beef to be quality, pulled pot roast. We marinate the beef overnight to enhance the flavor. We also have several soups and salads that are popular and are served with a fresh-baked croissant. Also, we make Buckeyes daily, along with Cake Drops that are very popular for parties and events.”
Hensley has his own personal menu favorites.
“My personal favorites are the Caramel Dutch Apple pie with a scoop of ice cream, both Chess pies, a slice of German Chocolate, Strawberry or Carrot cake, the French Dip, Homemade Club sandwich, and the California Chicken salad,” he says. “My all-time favorite from our store is the Butter Pecan ice cream. I love the soft texture, and rarely return to Indy from Louisville without a pint of Butter Pecan to eat on the road. I’ll put it this way – if I get across the Ohio River bridge before the pint is finished, I must have taken an important phone call. It’s great.”
Andy Vasiento, who handles marketing and media for Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café, says the people of Zionsville have been great.
“We continue to build sales, and the initial reviews have been very positive,” Vasiento says. “We hope to become one of their favorite places to eat or grab a dessert over time.”
The holidays are traditionally big weeks for pie stores. Vasiento expects the same for Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café.
“If you are considering a pie, cake or other dessert for the holidays, please contact the store and place an order,” Vasiento says. “Demand will likely be high. Without preordering, don’t assume we will have your favorite item in stock. It’s safer to call the store and place an order for you to simply pick up when you need it.”
Vasiento encourages customers to check out the official website at homemadecafes.com. He also encourages seniors and retirees to consider working at Homemade, as a great way to spend some time, meet new friends, have some fun and make some vacation money.
“Please check it out and watch our new online ordering system, rewards club, and mobile application to launch very soon,” he says. “We will also have the ability to sell gift cards very soon.”
Homemade Ice Cream & Bakery Café is located at 10875 North Michigan Road in Zionsville. For more info, call 317-210-9496 or visit homemadecafes.com.
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