Mitchell's own Wonka Factory in Ohio City

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There are connoisseurs of wine, cheese, cigars, brandy and all sorts of specialty items. As a self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, I can honestly say that in Northeast Ohio we have masters in our midst: Mike Mitchell and his brother Pete, who will be opening their version of the Willie Wonka Factory in the old Moda space on West 25th St. in early spring 2013.

Mike is thrilled to be taking over the space. “Ohio City is one of Cleveland’s special neighborhoods,” he says. “When people come to Cleveland, we want them to visit the great West Side Market, the breweries of Ohio City, and our flagship location.”

Along with taking every step to ensure historic design, the Mitchell brothers are being as eco-friendly as possible. Their new shop will have solar hot water tanks, a water recycling system, maximum insulation, reclaimed wood, skylights, motion sensors to turn lights on and off, an energy-efficient refrigeration system and a rain water collection system.

In short, this will be no ordinary ice cream shop. For customers, the most striking feature will be a fully viewable production kitchen, complete with a 34-foot clear wall that will take the concept of “show kitchen” to a new level. “Patrons will be able to watch our employees during the entire ice cream-making process — all the baking, fresh sauce-making, the hot nut roasting process and juicing fresh fruits,” Mike says. Viewing areas will include a second-story observation/dining area.

Though they’re preoccupied at the moment with world-class design, the Mitchells haven’t lost their focus on one of the main reasons for their success, which is using fresh local ingredients. Mike’s “farm to spoon” principle has been key to their ability to produce award-winning ice cream. He and his brother also strive to create a “zero waste partnership” with farmers and other vendors. A prime example of this is their partnership with Great Lakes Brewery.

Inevitably, there is some waste in the brewing process. Instead of letting it go down the drain, the Mitchells provide recycling containers to catch the overflow. That beer is used to create what some (including me) would say is an invention second only to the iPhone: GLB Christmas Ale Gingersnap Ice Cream. That should keep ice cream freaks (including me) happy until we can get our daily fix of the Mitchells’ creations at their Wonka Factory next year.

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