A Sweet Deal
Local Alameda Family Purchases Beloved Dessert Shop
Photos and story by Sam Tillis
Here’s the scoop on the new owners of Tucker’s Super Creamed Ice Cream in Alameda: They’re two families, both longtime Alameda residents and experienced business owners, and, of course, they love ice cream.
The fairy tale–like story of how the families came to acquire the 77-year-old ice cream parlor starts with Lauren Zimmerman-Cook and Stephen Zimmerman, the sister-brother team who manage AEC Living (a group of senior living communities), looking for a new office space. On hearing of a downtown location newly on the market, they investigated and discovered that the space was none other than Tucker’s Ice Cream, a spot they had adored since childhood. They couldn’t imagine turning it into an office, but they didn’t want a non-local corporation to purchase the neighborhood ice cream shop and diminish its classic charm.
Says Lauren, “We both looked at each other and said, ‘I think we’re going to buy an ice cream store.’” They brought in their spouses, Joshua Cook and Erika Zimmerman, as co-owners to help run the day-to-day operations. Erika will hold down the register, and Josh has embarked on a three-month intensive ice cream–making apprenticeship to learn the secrets of the trade.
This is not the first time the torch has been passed from one Alamedan to another. Since Marshall Tucker founded Tucker’s in 1941, it has always remained under the ownership of local residents. It was the previous owner, Kate Pryor, who brought Tucker’s to its current location on Park Street and deepened its role as a community hub.
What’s in store for the beloved dessert emporium? No drastic changes, the new owners assure me. The ice cream parlor will still produce all your favorite flavors, host flavor-naming contests, and stock the elusive Cho Chos (a chocolate malt-on-a-stick much sought after by historical dessert enthusiasts) and Tommy Tuckers (vanilla ice cream in a sugar cone, dipped in chocolate). But the Zimmermans and Cooks are not averse to a little experimentation as well: new flavors, new connections with neighboring businesses, and ice cream flights (picture a wine flight, but with bite-sized scoops of five different ice cream flavors) are some ideas
Most important to the new owners, though, is that Tucker’s remains a bastion of the local community, playing host to sports teams, bicycle clubs, reading programs, and birthday parties for all ages. “It’s an icon,” says Stephen Zimmerman, “and we want to keep it an icon.”
Sam Tillis is an Oakland-based man of many hats. When not writing, copy editing, or wrangling Edible East Bay’s social media, he can be found running Quantum Dragon Theatre, the Bay Area’s premiere science-fiction/fantasy theatre company. quantumdragon.org