Dowagiac reaches lease agreement for ‘Twistees’ building

Published 10:35 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — An ice cream parlor that has served the Dowagiac community for more than 40 years will soon have a new lease on life.

The Dowagiac City Council approved a resolution to finalize a lease with Dowagiac business owner Jordan Anderson for operation of the “Twistees” facility, 231 S. Front St. Anderson is the co-owner of The Baker’s Rhapsody, a coffee and pastry shop located in downtown Dowagiac.

The city owns the building that had been historically leased to Nancy Shufert, who passed away last year, to operate an ice cream shop next to City Hall. The property has been serviced and inspected and is in good working condition. 

At the beginning of January, the city issued a request for proposals for the Downtown Ice Cream Shop Operation lease of property and equipment purchase. The request for proposals asked potential operators to submit a business plan that focused on their team and experience, marketing strategy, scope, menu and plan for building improvements. 

The City received three proposals from existing reputable operators: Jordan Anderson, owner and operator of Bakers Rhapsody; Main Street Burgers, Pizza and Ice Cream in Eau Claire; and Wagner’s Good Dips ice cream trailers. 

A selection committee consisting of Mayor Pro-Tem Randy Gross, Council member Danielle Lucas, Assistant City Manager Amanda Sleigh, and Amelia Barker-King from the Barton Group interviewed each of the potential operators to gain further insight into the business plan, current operations, and to dive deeper into proposed project details including menu and food details. Following the interviews, the selection committee unanimously decided to recommend the City Council move forward with leasing the building to Anderson. According to Sleigh, the recommendation was made based on Anderson’s: 

  • Knowledge and familiarity with operating a successful downtown business within the Dowagiac community.
  • 23 years’ experience in the food service industry, with specific experience with a highly seasonal ice cream business.
  • Demonstrated social media marketing presence. 
  • Focused menu that will feature unique ice cream treats that incorporated handmade items, including partnering with Bakers Rhapsody to incorporate Dowagiac’s favorite baked goods.

Sleigh said the final step is working out details that need to be incorporated in the lease, which requires exterior renovations such as lighting and improvements to awning and customer service windows. She added that she expects the renovations will be completed by the middle of May with the business opening soon after.