Sluggo’s Sundae Drive in Madison Heights is bracing to serve its last scoop of homemade ice cream Aug. 11 at its Madison Heights parlor, the business announced Tuesday.
Sluggo’s announced the closing of its shop at 177 Elon Road on its Facebook page, adding it still plans to serve its product at several wholesale partners across Central Virginia, including a new coffee shop and bookstore planned to open at Second Stage Amherst later this year.
Owner Carl Merat said in an interview he works 70 hours a week and he and his wife made a tough decision to close the shop and keep selling ice cream at various locations in the area.
“We had to cut back somewhere,” Merat said. “As we move to retirement, wholesale makes more sense.”
He said he is looking to find ways to keep the ice cream’s presence alive in Madison Heights.
“We are doing everything possible to secure an opportunity to provide retail sales in Madison Heights and would appreciate your prayers and thoughts as we move forward,” the Facebook post said.
A Pennsylvania native who moved to the Lynchburg area in 1991 while taking a job at Liberty University, Merat said he’s made many friends in Amherst County and has enjoyed operating the shop and the “outpouring of ice cream love” from the community.
“Our customers have been so supportive,” Merat said. “We’re going to miss the customers.”
The couple, who reside in Elon, opened the shop near U.S. 29 Business in Madison Heights on Black Friday in 2014 and before then sold ice cream from a concessions truck.
“Sluggo” was Carl Merat’s nickname in college and came from the comic book “Nancy and Sluggo,” he said. The “Sundae Drive” portion of the business’s name came from Sunday trips to the ice cream parlor, a childhood memory he recalls of his dad taking the family out for savory treats in the country.
He said he never expected the shop to become so successful and popular and he’s seen many children grow up while serving ice cream behind his counter. In the summer the shop employs 10 workers, including several family members.
Madison Heights resident Robin Rodenbaugh said she loves everything about the shop, from its friendly and highly welcoming employees to its patriotic decorations. She describes its ice cream as “out of this world good.”
“Cute ice cream shops are a thing of the past but having them right in my neighborhood was such a treat for our family,” Rodenbaugh said. “They will be missed.”
Amanda Stanley, of Madison Heights, said she goes to Sluggo’s weekly.
“They have the absolute best ice cream in the Greater Lynchburg area and beyond — I have traveled and tested the theory,” Stanley said.
“It feels like a community gathering place and has the small town charm that only comes with a well-loved, local small business,” Stanley said. “This world needs more places like Sluggo’s, not less.”
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.