Apronomics: Beckie Jacobs of Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream
Nothing says summer quite like ice cream. For almost 20 years, Beckie Jacobs has been helping St. Louisans beat the heat as the owner of Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream, which just made the move to The Grove. The new shop is now open and serving up a double scoop of summer fun and quality ice cream.
A St. Louis native, Jacobs has many memories of enjoying frozen treats with friends and family. “I grew up going to the Velvet Freeze on Wydown; it was iconic for all of us kids,” she recalls. “My dad also would take us to the old Howard Johnson after school. They used to have a sundae called the Tasty Tester that had five scoops. My dad would always order it, and he’d finish it before I was done with my single scoop of mint chocolate chip.”
It was another local ice creamery that inspired Jacobs’ interest in high quality ice cream. In middle school, she and her friends would spend the summer hanging out at the Shaw Park swimming pool and then head to downtown Clayton for a snack. “There was a McDonalds, and my friends always wanted to go there because it was cheap,” she says. “But a few doors down was Oliver’s Ice Cream Parlor, which had the best ice cream I’d ever had. I was willing to spend a bit more for a scoop of cappuccino ice cream rolled in roasted almonds. It really instilled a love of fine ice cream in me.”
While Jacobs always had an appreciation for and interest in food, she did not originally consider it as a career option. “I did a lot of different things,” she notes. “As the mother of two young boys, I worked as an office manager at my husband’s law firm. It afforded me the flexibility to take time off when I needed it. Later in life, however, I decided I wanted to do my own thing.” When considering her next steps, she decided an ice cream shop was focused enough that one person could manage it. Inspired by her childhood memories, she started her journey toward building a place for the community to enjoy.
The first step was enrolling in St. Louis Community College. Jacobs then moved on to ice cream-focused courses at Penn State and the University of Wisconsin, where she learned more about the process of making ice cream and developing flavors. “I was still deciding if I wanted to make my own or buy from someone else,” she says. “Taking a hands-on ice cream making program showed me that I was capable of doing it myself. I also went to my first North American Ice Cream Association convention, and I found out that great people own ice cream shops.”
To create flavors, Jacobs works with her staff to determine what sounds good and then researches ingredients. When it comes to picking a favorite treat at Serendipity, she has a tough time. “I like all of my children equally,” she insists. “I love nuts, so I’m a big fan of one of our seasonal flavors called Play Ball. We only have it at the start of baseball season, and we’ll bring it back if the Cardinals are in the playoffs. It is popcorn ice cream with caramel swirls and peanuts. But my all-time favorite is probably Swiss Chocolate Chip. It’s a throwback to Velvet Freeze’s chocolate chip, which I always got as a kid.”
The first Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream opened in Webster Groves in 2003. Jacobs enjoyed being a part of the close-knit community for 18 years, but near the end of 2021, she announced the location would be closing, with the shop reopening in The Grove this summer. The change is bittersweet. While she’ll miss Webster Groves, she’s excited to bring Serendipity to a new audience who may not have gotten the chance to experience it. “The Grove is a wonderful neighborhood, and some of my Webster peeps have already made the trip east to visit, so it’s been fantastic,” she notes.
The new space will allow Serendipity to expand its offerings. It’s an exciting way for Jacobs to celebrate almost two decades of scooping up sweet treats for St. Louis. “One of my purposes when I started was to create a place for people to bring their families and create memories, just like Velvet Freeze and Howard Johnson were for me growing up,” she says. “Now, I’ve got people working for me who grew up coming to Serendipity. I’m super appreciative of the support we’ve received from the community.”
serendipity chocolate shake
3 scoops Serendipity vanilla ice cream
3 oz. milk
3 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. chocolate syrup
- Blend together, and pour into your cup of choice.
- Top with whipped cream and of course, a cherry!
Photos: Bill Barrett
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