A Valley couple celebrates two new beginnings tonight by getting married outside their new ice cream parlor.
THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Bob McAllister wasn't looking for a wife or a new career when he started going out with Deborah Giering three years ago. She wasn't looking, either.
Both divorced, with seven children between them, their friendship slowly blossomed into a romance and a business partnership combined.
"He wasn't looking; I wasn't looking. We were best friends and suddenly, boom! It happened," Giering said with a wide grin.
Ice cream parlor
Tonight McAllister and Giering will celebrate two new beginnings. They'll be married on the front patio of their new business, Giering's Homemade Ice Cream Shoppe at 10829 Main St. in this small Mahoning County village.
The couple will forego wearing the traditional bridal gown and tuxedo, but they'll both be in white. The bride and groom decided to wear their new work uniforms for the ceremony: white shorts and shoes, green ball caps and white shirts bearing their new company logo.
Construction on their new, 2,000-square-foot ice cream parlor is nearly complete. The owners expect to open for business later this month, serving 26 or more flavors of homemade ice cream using their own secret recipes, plus some ice cream novelties, frozen yogurt and sugar-free selections.
There's a drive-up window, three walk-up windows, a kitchen for on-site ice cream production, and a dining room with booths to seat 32. They'll also offer a limited menu of sandwiches, and soups in the winter.
"We're gonna have fun," McAllister said. "We'll listen to customers' suggestions and requests, and when we have a slow afternoon we'll be back in the kitchen experimenting, trying new combinations."
One specialty will be Giering's cheesecake-flavored ice cream. "It's unbelievable," he said.
How they met
McAllister had been a union sheet metal worker for 22 years and Giering worked for an aluminum extrusion company when they were introduced by a mutual friend in 1999. He was a Struthers native now living in New Middletown; she grew up in the Youngstown and Poland areas and was living in Boardman.
As their relationship grew closer, they found themselves talking of marriage and of starting a business together.
At first they planned a restaurant, but they decided to try an ice cream parlor instead because neither relished the idea of working in a hot restaurant kitchen. Besides, they both love ice cream. "We eat it at least two or three times a week," she said.
They considered buying into a franchise but instead agreed to go independent, because they wanted to maintain control over the menu and other business decisions.
A year of planning followed, including months of research and time spent attending schools and seminars in making ice cream. "It's a hush-hush market. That's what took the longest," McAllister said.
The owners financed the new building with the help of Sky Bank and the Small Business Administration. The business will employ 18 full- and part-time workers.
They decided to give the restaurant Giering's name in honor of her father, Vincent Giering, 80, of Boardman. "He grew up in the Depression, he had such a rough childhood and he's been through so much; I always wanted to do something special for him," she said. "This is it."