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Local family realizes dream with sweets shop

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Amanda and Joe Mason stand behind the counter of Sippy and Opal’s Ice Cream and Sweet Treats. Amanda Mason’s great-grandfather, E.B. Smith, is seen eating an ice cream cone in the framed newspaper clipping to their right. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The list of possible holiday yummies for Roswell residents and visitors is longer now that a family-owned sweets shop has opened.

Amanda Mason, right, runs the business with her husband, Joe. She also is in charge of making ice cream. Her mother, Linda Taub, is the baker. Brother Scott DeShais also works for the family enterprise. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Amanda and Joe Mason’s dream for Sippy and Opal’s Ice Cream and Sweet Treats began with the purchase of the historic downtown Fisk Building from the city in November 2017 and culminated Dec. 10 with the opening of their store at 327 N. Main St.

“It’s been nice and busy,” said Amanda Mason. “We served 4,000 scoops of ice cream our first week.”

The eatery pays homage to Amanda Mason’s late grandparents, the Watts. The company, Mason Holdings LLC, is also renting office space on the upper floor of the Fisk Building, with four of five units leased. The Masons have a 10-year plan to convert the offices into large loft apartments.

Right now, though, the focus is on the sweets shop, which features a selection of beverages and homemade pies, cobblers and brownies as well as several different flavors of homemade ice cream offered each day, such as butter pecan, Fruity Pebbles, vanilla bean and pistachio.

While enjoying that all the hard work has been successful so far, a family-run business also comes with a scoop of fatigue, Mason said, explaining she is the ice cream creator and had been at work from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. to make the day’s supplies.

Her mother, Linda Taub, is the baker. Her husband, Joe Mason, formerly a Roswell Police Department officer who now works with the Hagerman Police, does a little of everything. Her brother, Scott DeShais, is also working at the store. In addition, the shop has five employees.

The family also has overseen a lot of the construction and redecorating of a building that has had many lives in its 116 years, including being a bank and a bar. Prior to the Masons’ purchase, it was owned by Chaves County and then the city of Roswell, which considered it in such need of repair to meet required codes that the City Council agreed to sell a building appraised at $165,000 for $30,000. The structure was housing some county offices and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce when the sale went through and before the remodel required tenants to vacate the building.

The renovated rustic interior — which features milk cans for light covers and exposed bricks and electrical boxes — also has plenty of nods to the grandparents, including displays of a brief written history of their 66 years together and photos of various times in their lives.

The learning curve has been steep, Mason acknowledges. Her prior experience included being self-employed for nine years as a real estate specialist for a law firm and working as a manager for a call center. She also worked decades ago in the food service industry, but this is the first time she is running a business.

“What it takes to run a business day-to-day is unbelievable,” she said. “My sister runs a restaurant in Atlanta and she calls to check in — ‘How are you doing? Are you surviving?’ — but it is hard.”

One of the first things the Masons must deal with is creating a niche in the marketplace that has several other nearby stores and restaurants selling ice cream. Shortly after making a decision to open Sippy and Opal’s, another company announced plans to build a combined Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins a few blocks to the north. That restaurant is expected to open by late December or early January.

“I don’t know that they will be competition for us. They are more ‘grab and go,’” Mason said. “I think that we will serve different markets. They will appeal to people who want a drive-through. We will offer an ice cream experience. … We really wanted you to feel as if you were at your grandma’s house, and it is just welcoming and comfortable.”

Comments from customers have been positive, Mason said, adding that some people are already loyal regulars, stopping in after lunch and dinner. The shop is open seven days a week, 11 a.m to 9 p.m.

“Every morning when I wake up, I make sure that we still have five stars,” said Mason, “and so far we do.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.