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Lindsey and Jason Eddleston

Husband and wife Lindsey and Jason Eddleston have a lot on their plate and a lot to celebrate. The Bloomfield Hills couple acquired Ray’s Ice Cream in Royal Oak shortly before welcoming a baby girl. In addition, Lindsey works as a commercial real estate broker with Mid-America Real Estate Group-Michigan, and Jason and his family own and operate Sterling Companies, a bulk liquid terminal in Hamtramck that blends, compounds and transports petroleum and chemical products.

The two grew up in Bloomfield Hills, where Jason attended Cranbrook Schools and Lindsey went to Groves High School. Jason, who graduated from The University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School of Business, always wanted to own an ice cream parlor.

“As a kid, I loved food and we had a tradition of getting ice cream on weekends and when we traveled,” he recalled about his childhood memories that include dinner conversations with his parents, who passed on their entrepreneurial spirit.

Since taking over Ray’s last July, the new owners have connected with the community through social media and local events with their ice cream cart. Collaborations with other iconic Michigan brands have led to limited-edition flavors like the Franklin Cider Mill Donut Ice Cream, which was a big hit.

Until she got pregnant, Lindsey was lactose intolerant, but that is no longer the case. “Being seven months pregnant and purchasing Ray’s was excellent timing,” she said. “I got to enjoy all the flavors I could get my hands on. It was a whole new world for me.”

The old-school ice cream parlor dates to 1958. “Walking into Ray’s is like stepping back in time,” said Jason. Customers can enjoy more than 50 flavors along with sundaes, milkshakes, malts and banana splits.

“Outside the recipes and equipment, we really had no game plan except to meet customers and provide them with a great experience,” said Jason. “The first night, we ran out of napkins. The second night, we ran out of spoons and we didn’t have strawberry ice cream for three months.”

They did have an important asset. “We kept all employees on board, including Ray’s great-granddaughter, who still works in the back making ice cream,” he added.

Ray’s stays open year-round. “We also wholesale to grocery stores, specialty stores, country clubs and restaurants,” said Jason. “All of the ice cream is made onsite. We make 50,000 gallons per year, and 2,000 pounds of chocolate per year.”

Wholesale clients tend to order vanilla and chocolate, while retail favorites include cookies and cream and butter pecan.

They each bring different skillsets to the table. “Jason has a background in manufacturing and operations. This is a completely different product, but his skills are a good fit for the business,” said Lindsey, who has a sales and marketing background and a degree in communications from the University of Michigan. Her Ann Arbor Eats Instagram account remains a favorite among foodies. “I really enjoy putting those skills to work.”

Their videos have gone viral on social media. Some have over a million views. “We live in a culture where people want to view behind the curtain. They want to see how the ice cream is made,” said Jason.

Girl Scout tours combine a little history with a little tasting. “We’re creating long-lasting memories and bringing new generations to Ray’s,” he said.

Athletic teams are another draw. “We both played sports growing up,” said Lindsey. “We want to be the ice cream place of choice when they’re celebrating a win…or a loss.”

She likes seeing all the smiles. “Everyone that comes in creates memories and I love all the joy that sparks for customers,” she said.

Jason agrees. “When people come in the parlor, they take a break from life. We’re putting them back in time and really capturing that moment.”

Story: Jeanine Matlow

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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