By Chris Rotolo |ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – The sidewalk was buzzing on Friday afternoon as people lined up to sample a treat at the borough’s newest ice cream store.Nicholas Creamery, located between a cinema and a coffee shop, offers a variety of artisanal ice cream, with small-batch offerings crafted by hand from locally sourced, all-natural ingredients.Owner Nicholas Harary has made his reputation in the restaurant industry, operating one of the most lavish eateries in Monmouth County, Restaurant Nicholas in Middletown. But on this day the revered chef was expanding his brand with gourmet take-away cups, cones and milkshakes.“This is where I live. These are my friends and neighbors and it’s very special to be able to serve them in this fashion and bring smiles to their faces,” said Harary, with emotion, about the hundreds of borough students, teachers, parents and neighbors who filled the lobby.Just as Restaurant Nicholas promises a unique and upscale dining experience, Nicholas Creamery wants to deliver big and bold flavors using basic ingredients like milk, cream, eggs and sugar.“It was important to us, if we were going to do this, that we serve a pure product that tastes great,” said Jodie Edwards, Harary’s business partner for the last decade. “We both have kids. We both have discussions with friends and family who are concerned about what’s in their kids’ food,” Edwards added.On Friday, conventional flavors like Valrhona chocolate, Tahitian vanilla, mint chip, peanut butter chocolate chunk and salted caramel were popular with customers.More daring flavors include a Scoop of Sunshine, a blend of lemon ice cream, graham crackers and white chocolate pearls; The Goat, comprised of goat cheese ice cream, roasted strawberries and balsamic reduction; as well as a limited time offering named Hudson Cafe Coffee Crunch, a collaborative effort between the creamery and the longtime Atlantic Highlands coffee shop.According to the staff, the customer favorite seemed to be Kentucky Dreaming, a recipe which includes Nicholas Reserve Four Roses Bourbon and brown sugar.Cups of ice cream range from $3.50 to $5.25. Add a dollar more for cones, and 50 cents for toppings. Sundaes and milkshakes are $7.50.“We’re excited about having this place here and think it’s great,” said Andrew Salsano of Atlantic Highlands, who ventured to the creamery with his wife and three-year-old son. “We frequent the Restaurant Nicholas from time to time and we’re a big fan of what they do over there. So if there’s a new place in town to get ice cream, we’re really happy it’s being run by Nicholas.”According to Harary, operating a fine dining establishment like Restaurant Nicholas over the last 20 years has been a labor of love but a laborious process nonetheless for all of his trusted staff and employees.Nicholas Creamery, however, is a platform for Harary, Edwards and Restaurant Nicholas pastry chef Kelly Kennedy to take a step back from the fast-paced and high-intensity realm of upscale food service.“We love what we do over at the restaurant but it’s so serious all the time,” Harary said. “It’s a place for special events and occasions where people expect to have a certain experience. But the creamery is a place where we can have some fun and experiment with new ideas and get our families involved in the creative process.”Harary’s eight-year-old daughter Juliana has already made her mark on Nicholas Creamery as a flavor designer; customers can expect to see a Spongebob Squarepants-themed creation with caramelized pineapples coming soon.“This is certainly a creative outlet for myself, Jodie and Kelly,” Harary said. “Especially for Kelly. She loves ice cream. People love to buy our ice cream at the restaurant, so we’ve always talked about selling it, but we didn’t want to sell pints out of the restaurant. So now Kelly is working double duty, making ice cream in the mornings here, before taking care of her pastry duties at night.”The First Avenue location is the first of two Nicholas Creamery sites. A second shop will be opening later this summer in Edwards’ hometown of Fair Haven at 586 River Road.“We’ve been discussing this idea for years,” Edwards said. “And it’s very special for us to have a model that includes locations in the communities we live in. We want to be active in our communities. We want Nicholas Creamery to be the place our friends and family can come after a school event or a baseball game. We want to have fun with our neighbors and this is great way to do it.”Nicholas Creamery is located at 84 First Avenue. June hours will be Monday through Friday, 3-10 p.m.; weekends noon-10 p.m.This article was first published in the May 31-June 7, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.