serendipity homemade ice cream photo by michelle volansky

First Look: Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream in the Grove

Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream is now open at 4400 Manchester Ave. in the Grove, seven months after closing its original location in Webster Groves. The long-running local ice cream purveyor has been in soft opening since July 6 and is set to host its grand opening on Sunday, July 17.

Owned by Beckie Jacobs, Serendipity has been a fixture on the local ice cream scene for almost two decades now. The company had operated out of its shop at 8130 Big Bend Blvd. in Webster Groves since 2003, but Jacobs was forced to close that original location at in December 2021 when the shop’s landlord declined to renew the lease on the space. 

At 2,400 square feet, the new shop is significantly larger than the Webster Groves location, both in terms of kitchen space and front of house. Jacobs said this will facilitate Serendipity’s growth on two fronts. For one thing, walk-in customers will now have more choice of flavors, and there’s also more room to grab a table and hang out with friends. It’s a bright, breezy space customers will want to spend time in, located in a corner building with large windows and ample sunlight. A mural is yet to be painted on one wall, which Jacobs said will create opportunities for customers to snap Instagram-worthy moments once it’s complete. On the other hand, the larger kitchen capacity will allow Serendipity to continue expanding its wholesale business.

In terms of ice cream, you’ll find the same Serendipity flavors that St. Louis has taken to its heart over the past 19 years. Fans can expect to find favorites like the Gold Coast chocolate (a favorite at Sauce HQ), Cookie Monster and butter pecan. If you like to keep it simple, Serendipity’s vanilla is a straight-down-the-line classic. 

Ice creams by the scoop can be served in cones or cups, but Jacobs is trying to avoid single-use cups and spoons. “We’re trying to limit our paper and plastic,” she said. Instead, dine-in customers will have their ice cream served in glass bowls, their shakes in glass mugs. “It’s all about keeping it as sustainable as we possibly can,” Jacobs said.

Customers can accessorize their ice cream with a variety of toppings and syrups or build a sundae with a double scoop of ice cream, a choice of topping, whipped cream and a cherry on top. In addition to ice creams by the scoop, you can also order an ice cream sandwich, warmed on a hot press for 10 seconds before serving, or have a shake, malt or float. 

For now, the most significant new addition are poffertjes, a Dutch treat comprising fluffy mini-pancakes topped with powdered sugar, chocolate syrup and served with whipped cream on the side. Jacobs said these were briefly available at the Webster location, but she’s excited about being able to put them front and center. 

There’s already plenty for customers to explore at the new-look Serendipity, but it will be several months before Jacobs can fully realize her vision for the Grove location. Liquor licensing and supply chain issues are currently holding up those developments, which will eventually see coffee drinks, liquor and beer added to the menu. 

The liquor license will enable Jacobs to bring Serendipity’s Spirited Shakes to the Grove, and she’s very particular in distinguishing them from what others might call boozy shakes. “A boozy shake is a shake with booze,” Jacobs said. “A Spirited Shake is an actually crafted cocktail.” Once the drinks selection is rounded out, customers will notice the mood shift throughout the day as coffee service earlier in the day gives way to alcohol service as the liquor cabinet is opened in the evening.

The selection of ice creams by the scoop will rise from 12 to 28 when a new freezer arrives to replace equipment that was broken in transit. When that happens, you’ll see more vegan ice creams available by the scoop.

Jacobs acknowledged that she’s still in a kind of limbo, comparing the current situation to the way Busch Stadium was reconstructed in installments through 2005 and 2006. “They could only build part of it, then they had to knock down the old one and finish building it. That’s kind of where we are,” she laughed.

However, with ample quantities of Serendipity’s ice cream ready to go, by the scoop or by the pint, Jacobs is certain that after missing half a year of business already, the one thing she couldn’t afford to do is lose out on the summer ice cream season. “The real deal is that I just need to get open,” she said. “Even if I'm open at 40 percent, I need to get open.”

Serendipity’s grand opening this Sunday will feature live music from 6 to 9 p.m., with surprise specials to be announced throughout the day, and a balloon animal artist to entertain the kids. The first 100 guests to purchase a pint of ice cream will receive a collectible ice cream scooper emblazoned with Serendipity’s new logo, which was designed by Studio X. Fittingly, the occasion falls not just on National Ice Cream Day – the day also marks the 19th anniversary of Serendipity’s launch in 2003.

Serendipity is open from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.