“I’m not sure there’s another float place in the region,” Thompson said of the new shop in the City Market. “As a place that specializes in just doing thousands of varieties of floats, we’re a unique option. There’s a lot of great ice cream in Kansas City, but I want to be the cool float place.”
Thompson toyed with the idea of pairing ice cream and soda for a long time, he said, especially after seeing how his Lawrence-based Mass Street Soda benefited from Sylas and Maddy’s moving to a location next door.
“They’re a great neighbor, because people will stop by to grab ice cream, and then they’ll also come by … and grab soda to take home,” Thompson said. “I like the idea of having [a float] to have here as a treat, and [a soda] to take home. It’s a good complementary business to have next door.”
Similarly, customers at the City Market can pick out a craft soda of their choice from KC Soda Co.’s location, then have that passed through a door to Fountain City Scoops and Floats shop to be turned into an ice cream float.
Patrons also can create their own combinations by selecting from 16 ice cream flavors, 21 soda bases, and more than 25 toppings, or choose from a preset menu of specialty floats.
A gathering place for small business
Though Thompson has long explored the idea of opening an ice cream parlor, the opportunity arose unexpectedly, he shared.
The space at 419 Main Str., which opened as Fountain City Scoops and Floats on July 15, was previously home to Le Chronic Cafe, which closed in late 2021. Bryan Merker, the cafe owner, approached Thompson about taking over the space, he recalled.
“I asked the City Market about it, and they liked the idea of doing an ice cream and float shop,” Thompson said. “There’s not a lot of ice cream in the market, so it’s something that, I think, was maybe missing.”
More than a year later, Fountain City Scoops and Floats opened its doors, about five years after KC Soda Co. moved from the Legends to the City Market, which Thompson said is a premier location in the city for businesses.
“There is no place in Kansas City that has more eyeballs on the weekends,” he said. “It is a place for locals. It is a place for tourists. … It’s a great gathering place for people in Kansas City.”
Small businesses especially benefit from having a storefront at the City Market, Thompson added.
“The market that we’re looking for is the people who are intentional about buying from small businesses,” he said. “Everybody here [at the City Market] is a small business, and everybody here is local to Kansas City.”
Crafting a flavorful business plan
Fountain City Scoops and Floats is just getting started, Thompson said, and he plans to keep growing and evolving the business.
Before summer ends, he plans to purchase fresh fruits from vendors at the City Market to craft blackberry, strawberry, and peach flavored floats, he shared.
Looking further into the future, Thompson envisions having four soda taps in-house: one root beer and three rotating flavors — in addition to four kombucha taps from Lucky Elixir in North Kansas City.
Eventually, he also hopes to make small batch sodas and pursue hand-bottling, allowing him to craft his own unique creations.
“That lets us really play with the flavors,” Thompson said.
What won’t change, though, is Thompson’s commitment to keeping prices affordable, he said.
Every base menu item costs less than $5 and comes with generously-sized scoops, he noted, in an effort to ensure that everyone can enjoy a float without breaking the bank.
“We have a lot of people in the Market with very, very different budgets,” Thompson said. “I want to make sure that every family that comes has options to buy.”
Thompson admitted that he’s still in the process of learning what works best, but emphasized that his focus will remain on making quality ice cream floats that allow people to escape, if even for a moment.
“I want to focus on the sodas and the floats,” Thompson said. “It reminds me of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. It just reminds me of a vacation ice cream parlor.”