News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
What is your name and the name of your business?
My name is Ashley Benes and I am the owner of Papa Beans Ice Cream.
How did you get to Sandwich, NH?
I grew up in the Lakes Region and my first time I can remember being in Sandwich was at the age of four going to the Sandwich Fair. This is where I experienced my first pony ride and my love for horses.
When I was in my early 30s I taught lessons and volunteered for the local Mt Washington Valley Pony Club that was fortunate enough to use the fairgrounds for their practices. Around that same time, 2011 or 2012 I believe, I helped organize a 5K Turkey trot based out of the Sandwich fairgrounds as a fundraiser for the Pony Club. My father is an active member of the White Mountain Milers running club and I had dabbled in some races by this time in my life and was hooked. I went on to attend a 5k turkey trot from the Beach to Bar, Christmas Jingle Bell Run put on by a yoga studio, Booty Farm 5k, and the Old Home week triathlon.
I remember thinking this is the kind of community I want to live in. When Brad and I started dating a few years back our first official date was hiking Mt. Israel and eating ice cream afterwards. As life partners and residents of Sandwich we find it important to enjoy the nature and beauty in our area as often as we can and our busy lives allow.
Tell us about your business. What do you make, do, or offer as a service?
I make small batches of homemade ice cream using local New Hampshire diary and source ingredients locally when ever possible to stir in the ice cream. We are located inside Young Maple Ridge Sugarhouse. You can purchase pints, half pints, ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cakes or pies. One of the most popular flavors is the Maple Bourbon Ice cream that is flavored from Maple Bourbon aged syrup made by Brad right in the Sugarhouse.
How did your business get started?
In the late 1980s my father’s construction business was taking a hit due to the economy. My parents decided to take a chance and open a homemade ice cream business they called Bobby Sue’s, located in West Ossipee where M & V’s gas station is located now.
At the age of 7, I knew that my ice cream tasting passion would continue. My favorite flavor then was peach with rainbow sprinkles. After a successful couple of years my parents sold the business and my father went back to construction. My father has opened a couple other homemade scoop shops in Conway area over the years and acquired a few nicknames: “Scoop Man” and “Papa Beans.”
Since a young age I have always dreamed of owning my own small food business and had been brainstorming this idea for several years. I have a BS in Business Management from PSU and was working as Assistant Utility Manager for a water company the last 8 years and knew I was ready for a career change. My father had given me his ice cream machine and Brad offered to share his kitchen space at his sugarhouse. I began the process of filling all the requirements for a new business and inspections needed before making the big jump of leaving my office job.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your work?
Have you ever seen someone eat ice cream who is not smiling? The ice cream is not always the first thing guests look at when they arrive at Young Maple Ridge Sugarhouse. Often they are surprised by the assortment of maple syrup choices in glass & plastic bottles. Then they see the Maple Candy, Maple Sugar, Maple Cream, and Maple Bourbon Syrup.
What gets most of the attention is Brad’s evaporator, the 40-gallon barrels, stacked syrup drums, and the wooden bourbon barrel filled with syrup that is aging before being bottled. We love seeing people’s reactions to the sugaring process and the assortment of flavors of ice cream we have made. The ice cream sandwiches are a huge hit and many are thrilled to see our unique flavors.
What is the hardest?
The hardest part is not eating all the profits. Starting a business with unstable and rising product costs has posed a huge challenge for me especially in figuring out my own costs and pricing. I have attended many farmers markets and estimating what items to bring or have on hand has been difficult. Having the support of family, friends and community has allowed starting this business a little less hard. Brad and his parents, Rae & Bob Streeter, are always available and willing to step in and help. My father is even finally sharing some of his secrets of success.
What are your goals and hopes for the future?
I hope to have a successful sustainable business that allows connections with other small business and community. Anyone local that has ingredients that would pair well with our ice cream please reach out.
What else can you tell us about yourself, your business, and your life in Sandwich?
Being an ice cream eater, I must stay active and where else to do that than Sandwich. I am an avid runner, hiker, and in recent years gravel bike rider. I am a proud dog mom of Simon (14.5) and Chuck (2.5) and enjoy spending time in the woods with them and Brad.
Sandwich offers so much for such a small town because of the compassionate people that choose to live here. I truly appreciate and value being able to eat while listening to local musicians at The Foothills and The Corner House, shop at the numerous farm stands on my way home, take a yoga class, and still be able to explore quiet trails and nature.
Papa Beans Ice Cream
301 Wing Road, Sandwich NH
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