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Screaming into Capitol Hill’s ice cream void

Dessert went away even before the pandemic hit. Is it coming back?

Work was underway at Jeni’s new location on Barracks Row on Monday.
Work was underway at Jeni’s new location on Barracks Row on Monday. (Kathryn Lyons/CQ Roll Call)

“Captain Cookie!” reads the sign above an empty Capitol Hill storefront on 7th Street Southeast. The exclamation point signals excitement, but the construction paper-covered windows imply you’ll have to wait.

Dessert lovers on the Hill despaired when not one but two shops closed down last fall. After losing Pitango Gelato and Trickling Springs Creamery, the area around Eastern Market felt almost sugar-free. 

Hope surged in January, when Captain Cookie and the Milkman, known for its food trucks and ice cream sandwiches, announced it would open another brick-and-mortar store, with a “Spring 2020” debut. Now that date is slipping past.

We’re pleased to announce our newest location, opening Spring 2020 in Eastern Market! We’ve met so many amazing neighbors already! #smallbusiness #new #cookies #icecream #buylocal

Posted by Captain Cookie and the Milk Man on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The timetable is looking slightly better just down the road. The pandemic had already struck when Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams announced its new location on Barracks Row. Construction workers were onsite Monday afternoon, signaling optimism for a summer opening.

That should please at least one ice cream head who spends significant time in the District. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed off her home freezer drawer to late night host James Corden in April, she set off perhaps the coldest debate of the year, with Republicans scolding her for dreaming of ice cream during a pandemic. Caught in the middle were pints of Jeni’s, including flavors like “Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks.” 

“I like it better than anything else,” she told the TV host of her obsession with ice cream and candy.

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