Ice cream parlor changes hands

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Jersey Junction was founded in 1963 by Doris “Chris” Van Allsburg. Courtesy Bob Kaser

An almost 60-year-old ice cream shop in a suburb of Grand Rapids is under new ownership.

Elias Olivarez and Mindy Olivarez sold Jersey Junction, at 652 Croswell Ave. SE in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village, to a new ownership group consisting of East Grand Rapids residents Bob Kaser and Rosalie Kaser, Andy Young and Maria Young, Brian Tierney and Heidi Tierney, and Bruce Kratt and Betsy Kratt.

The former three couples also are co-owners of the Gaslight Village and downtown Grand Rapids Kilwins locations.

Rosalie Kaser will oversee the day-to-day management of Jersey Junction with operational and business development assistance from Bob Kaser and Bruce Kratt, according to the new owners.

Jersey Junction was founded in 1963 by Doris “Chris” Van Allsburg and has been owned by the Olivarezes for a dozen years.

“We want to thank previous owners Elias and Mindy Olivarez for entrusting our group with this treasured Gaslight Village landmark,” Andy Young said. “It was important to the Olivarez family that Jersey Junction was passed along to new owners who place a sincere value in its history and rich tradition, and we most certainly do.”

In keeping with the sellers’ “desire to operate this magical place with very little change,” the new owners said they will open Jersey Junction for the season on March 1 — no matter the weather — as has been the longtime custom.

The new ownership group also plans to maintain the “look and feel of Jersey Junction, both inside and out,” with only a few improvements.

The new owners are working on some changes “to honor the history of Jersey Junction,” including bringing back some of the original signage, ensuring the iconic train is chugging around the tracks and changing the business’s email address to 1963@jerseyjunction.com.

“We have a tremendous appreciation for what Jersey Junction means to our fellow residents,” Rosalie Kaser said.

“It’s a place where friends and family gather throughout the summer months. It simply brings our community together in a special and meaningful way, and there is a great sense of pride in the fact that visitors from all over come to experience what simply is the ‘cutest little ice cream parlor’ you’ll find anywhere.”

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