BY ELLIE HENSLEY
A sweet new shop has opened on Peachtree in the heart of Midtown that just might help provide some relief from the sweltering summer heat.
Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches opened in May in the former Purely spot in the Viewpoint building. While it offers traditional ice cream scoops in cones and bowls, its specialty is a cookie ice cream sandwich.
We caught up with Founder and CEO Cathy Cross to find out what inspired her shop and why her decadent cookie sandwiches are worth the splurge.
Soft Cookies Meet Southern Hospitality
Cross got the idea for the restaurant after ordering a disappointing ice cream sandwich at a fair in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The cookie was hard, and I thought I could make it way better,” Cross said. “I made one from a chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream at my apartment, and that’s where the concept came from.”
Both the cookies and the ice cream have always been made in-house, in a variety of flavors. Cookie flavors include chocolate chip, chocolate brownie, snickerdoodle, M&M, peanut butter and ginger molasses.
The 14 ice cream flavors range from staples like vanilla and milk chocolate to more unique flavors like key lime pie, banana pudding, coffee and cream and white chocolate truffle. You can also add toppings to the sandwich such as rainbow sprinkles, toffee, fruity pebbles and homemade chocolate sauce.
“I wanted flavors that would set us apart, flavors that you can’t find anywhere else,” Cross said.
Destined for Midtown Atlanta
Cross is a Spelman College graduate who then moved to Cleveland for law school. She practiced law for two years before opening her first Cathy’s in downtown Cleveland in 2018. The shop was a smash hit in Cleveland, and Cross decided she wanted to expand across the Southern states.
“I went to five different cities when I was choosing our expansion city, and the culture, the energy and the Southern hospitality in Atlanta along with my business ties and personal contacts in Atlanta made it a natural choice,” Cross said.
Cross (second from left) poses with members of Midtown's Blue and Green team outside her shop on Peachtree.
Initially, the first Atlanta location was slated to be in West Midtown, but COVID-19 and permitting related delays caused Cross to seek out another location where she would be able to open sooner.
“I think it is important for entrepreneurs to be flexible and pivot and push forward toward what they’re trying to accomplish,” she said. “We decided not to keep waiting, and I really liked the [Midtown area]. I knew it would work here, and it was optimal here. The Atlanta community has been so supportive of businesses, especially Black women-owned businesses.”
Cathy’s Midtown location opened May 15. She said she had no issues getting permits and opening on time, which she attributes to everyone being “helpful and very open to sharing resources.” The shop is now currently staffed up, despite a shortage currently causing issues across the food and beverage industry.
“That’s a challenge no matter how big or small you are, but I’m very big on giving a great pay rate, giving tips and having the music blasting,” Cross said.
Bringing Something Different to the Table
After working at places with unpleasant leadership in high school and college, Cross knew she wanted to foster a “jovial, upbeat, exciting” atmosphere as a business owner. It’s also important to her to help other aspiring Black female entrepreneurs to find success.
“First you have to believe in yourself at all times and know you have everything you need to accomplish your goals,” she said. “People think that race or gender can be a hindrance, and in some ways it can, but in other ways it is advantageous to be a woman because we stand out and bring something different to the table. Tap into that, look at it as advantageous and when you have that mindset, you'll see how things fall into place.”
In addition to growing her chain of ice cream sandwich shops, Cross hopes to help other aspiring Black female entrepreneurs to find success.
Midtown businesses like Cathy's have missed you just as much as you have missed them. When you’re ready to come back, please show your support to local restaurants and their hard-working owners and staffers. From posting a positive Yelp review to posting pics of your meal on social media, there are many ways you can show how you "Love Local." Head over to this page for a list of ideas and to read more profiles of Midtown business owners.