Westport mainstay Murray’s Homemade Ice Cream didn’t announce a closing, it just quietly auctioned its wares in late 2016.
When longtime customers the Engravalle family heard, they got together to make sure a family-owned ice cream shop would still operate in the space. They bought most of Murray’s equipment at the auction and spent six weeks negotiating a lease for the space at 4120 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 14.
Their Westport Ice Cream Bakery will sell handcrafted ice cream, featuring their new Vito’s Famous Shalolly & Sorbetto, baked goods such as cookies, brownies and ice cream pies, along with hand-dipped strawberries, and shakes and floats.
Chief operating officer Steve Engravalle is from New Jersey but would always stop at Murray’s while visiting his brother and sister-in-law, Dan and Debra Engravalle, in Kansas City. Steve Engravalle was a superintendent of schools for six years, but his wife died five years ago and he was looking for a change. His brother and sister-in-law are partners in the new shop.
“I’m half Polish, half Italian. We’re big eaters. I’m 270, my brother is larger,” Engravalle said. “But this will be the place you go to bust your diet. It was an institution for 32 years and we would like it to remain a destination.”
In the New Jersey towns where the family is from, shalolly is the term used for Italian ice. The Vito’s logo features a photo of the brothers’ grandfather, Vito Engravalle, and they will use recipes that he used in his bowling alley concession in the 1940s and 1950s.
Murray’s opened in the mid-1980s and typically shut down for winter breaks December through March. The owner couldn’t be reached for comment.
Westport Ice Cream Bakery will be open daily, year-round. Some flavors will include Coffee Chip, Key Lime, Malted Milk Ball and Frankenstein (ingredients to be revealed later).
Engravalle said he has been sifting through handwritten notes in the mail slot from Murray’s fans interested in taking over the spot, wanting Murray’s recipes or just saying it was missed.
“We know the place it had in Kansas City. We aren’t going to replicate everything Murray’s did but we will give you fresh ingredients. We want to be a sweet continuation,” Engravalle said. “We have a list of 168 recipes that we will whittle down, but not chocolate, vanilla or strawberry because that’s boring.”