SHERIDAN — A new business, Sheridan’s only registered creamery, took residence in Legerski Sausage Co.’s former smokehouse on North Main Street, and the owner is starting from scratch on the new endeavor.
Louis Mitchell made a living in civil division construction before making his dream a reality through the creamery. His days of building runways, military bases and bridges turned into a year of research to find the perfect base recipe for his product.
“I’m a big kid at heart, and everybody has a second chapter to their life,” Mitchell said. “If I’m going to work for the rest of my life it’s going to be doing something that’s fun, and what’s more fun than making ice cream?”
Mitchell traveled through Sheridan frequently on his way to hunt in South Dakota.
Along the way, he made a few friends while falling in love with the city at the base of the Bighorns.
Mitchell started his business small in a way he calls a proof of concept. He rents out Legerski Sausage Company’s former smokehouse and purchased the bare minimum for equipment until he ensures Sheridan likes his product. So far, Legerski’s, Kendrick Park ice cream stand and Studio Cafe have all supported his efforts and sell the ice cream from their various locations. Mitchell said Studio Cafe purchased an ice cream freezer just to carry Cowboy Creamery ice cream.
The ice cream base derives from both American and French-style ice cream recipes, in which the only difference is eggs. Mitchell produces superior ice cream, which requires starting with 15 percent cream in the base recipe. Most ice creams are defined as premium or ice milk, in which the Department of Agriculture requires 10 percent cream or less, with whipping or overrunning the ice cream up to 100 percent.
“Air is needed to make ice cream edible by preventing the cream from freezing solid, but too much air also dilutes the amount of cream to the consumer,” Mitchell said. “Ice milk, such as soft serve, can contain less than 10 percent cream on average.”
While churning in the three-gallon ice cream machine, less air flows through the cream, thus creating a creamier, thicker final product.
Mitchell anticipates opening a cash-and-carry counter service but wants to first focus on wholesale distribution and connections with local businesses.
Wilcoxon’s, out of Billings, supplies a large amount of Kendrick Park ice cream stand’s product throughout the summer. With only one shipment every two weeks, though, and limited freezer space, stand manager Rich Bridger pulls from other resources to keep the business running throughout the week.
Bridger and Mitchell made an agreement ensuring Cowboy Creamery ice cream could be delivered at any time of the day, any day of the week. Mitchell said he appreciates the support for local business, so he won’t let Bridger down with an order.
“I’m always keen on trying to promote local vendors, and I do as much of my business locally as I can,” Bridger said. “We’ve started out slowly with three flavors, and they’ve all been quite excellent.”
Mitchell will focus on wholesale and creating relationships with restaurants and other ice-cream-carrying businesses in Sheridan and will offer to make a signature flavor for a restaurant if they wish.
Mitchell will start out small, but depending on the reception in Sheridan, Cowboy Creamery could grow into a big producer in the future.