A Scooter’s at One-Mile
Italian-ices vendor wants to reopen concession stand
A long-ago and almost-forgotten era in Chico, when swimmers and sunbathers at the One-Mile Recreation Area could purchase drinks and snacks at a convenient concession stand, will soon be replicated if Scott Gormley gets his way.
Gormley, owner of Scooter’s Italian Ices, which launched in Chico just a few months ago, recently submitted a proposal to the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission to re-establish the site’s concession stand.
One-Mile patrons formerly could stop by the stand for a soda, hamburger, or other snack items, but more recently the ’70s-era stand has been used to store lifeguard equipment.
As part of a special meeting Monday (Aug. 17) the commission and other parties will visit One-Mile at 6:30 p.m. and examine the concession stand. At prior meetings some commissioners have expressed concern about the lifeguards’ need for storage area. Others have worried about extra ground trash the concession might produce, as well as the insurance a business would need in order to operate. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend the special meeting and any subsequent meetings concerning this issue.
Gormley, who along with his wife, Nicole, operates the sidewalk cart business, said those issues would not pose a problem for him. He already has appropriate insurance in place, and he would make the effort to remove any extra trash on the ground that was affiliated with the concession stand’s operation.
In his proposal, Gormley has offered 20 percent of his sales to the city in hopes the money would be used to enhance and keep up the popular outdoor location. “The concession stand was built because the people of Chico wanted it, and we’ve had lots of people say they want to see it used as a concession stand again,” he said.
General Services Director Dennis Beardsley said if the commission agreed to re-establish the concession stand, a solution would have to be found to accommodate the lifeguard program. “We have many lifeguards rotating throughout the day. My concern is to make sure the lifeguard program isn’t disadvantaged and the public safety isn’t compromised,” he said.
Gormley pointed out there is no “concession vs. lifeguard” issue, and he’s told the commission he’s willing to split the concession stand, if necessary, and share it with the lifeguards, although he would prefer to have full use of the building. Another possibility is to bring in a portable unit for the lifeguards to use.
“Let’s use the building for what it was intended and put it to its highest and best use—as a concession stand,” Gormley said.
Even if the commission does approve the re-establishment of the concession stand, Beardsley said, it would then have to distribute RFPs (requests for proposal), and Gormley would have to compete with others for the concession.
“No other party has expressed a desire to operate the concession,” Gormley said.
Scooter’s Italian Ices has circulated a petition that more than 800 local citizens have signed, expressing their desire for Scooter’s Italian Ices to occupy the concession.
Now building his second cart so he can expand his business, Gormley—whose childhood nickname was “Scooter”—said Scooter’s Italian Ices has met “wild success” so far. “Chico has embraced the product and what we do.”
Recently, he’s sold ices at special events in Forbestown, Oroville and Glenn County, encountering a positive reception in those locales as well.
The biggest obstacle to date, he said, has involved people automatically equating Italian ices with snow cones or Hawaiian shaved ice. “There’s no high-fructose corn syrup in our product,” he said. “It’s a very blended-through product, and it has a sorbet consistency to it—it holds well.” The ices contain no dairy, no cholestrol, and only small amounts of natural cane sugar. “People love it as a healthier and more refreshing alternative to gelatto and ice cream.”
Gormley is not new to the local business scene: He worked for three years as one of the original servers for Fifth Street Steakhouse. After graduating from CSU Chico, he obtained a California real estate broker’s license and opened Oak Valley Mortgage, which he has operated for five years.
With the downturn in real estate, he realized the need to diversify. He decided to bring to Chico the Italian ices his family had enjoyed back east before moving to Southern California just prior to his high school years. Gormley also owns Orange County Virtual Tours, a growing online business.
A father of two young children, Gormley receives help from his retired father, Joe “Ice Dog” Gormley, in the day-to-day operations of the business. “People are loving the product,” the elder Gormley said. “We’re getting a lot of repeat business.”
Joe Gormley can be found scooping ices at the cart’s Fourth and Broadway post on weekdays or at the Saturday Farmers Market and the Thursday Night Market, and at special events. Gormley has set up the business so it is franchiseable, and because of its rapid growth he anticipates hiring employees soon.
Gormley said he’d encountered a couple of “learning days”—for example, when he transported product back from Glenn County in triple-digit weather and about half of it melted. “But we communicate often and make adjustments,” he said, adding everything is running smoothly and becoming streamlined. The business will have a presence in the Chico Mall starting in October.