Soft Stuff to finish season; will reopen next as an ice cream parlor

Soft Stuff, the popular ice cream stand to the east of the Forest Diner, on the same property, will remain in business, but in a different form.

Started by Michael and Steve Weal in 1984, the old-fashioned ice cream stand is open from April to October, drawing long lines for its premium soft-serve ice cream, particularly on warm summer nights. Chocolate, vanilla and orange are always offered, with other flavors in rotation.

The Weals, who started the ice cream stand when they were owners of the Forest Motel, are now developing the property as Forest Green, with 75,000 square feet of retail space and 38 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

The existing ice cream stand, with its long wooden walkway, will be torn down in the fall.

"I'm sure we'll get through the end of September," said Michael Weal, who added he will try and keep the stand open to the end of October.

When it reopens, Soft Stuff will be a sit-down ice cream parlor, Weal said. The 1,500-square-foot space will be part of the project's first building, and will be twice the size of the current Soft Stuff stand, he said. It will have indoor seating, as well as round tables on a concrete patio. And it will have restrooms.

Weal said the menu will also be expanded to include other dessert and snack foods, though the specific ones have not yet been chosen.

Weal explained the development, to be undertaken by Waverly Real Estate Group's Donald Reuwer, with partners including Sang Oh, Bruce Taylor and Richard Talkin, and with Jared Spahn as builder, won't sit along Route 40 like a traditional strip shopping center, but instead will meander along the property's six acres, all the way back to Frederick Road.

He said the retail space is about half rented so far, and will be built in stages. He hopes construction of the first building will be complete in time for Soft Stuff to open without missing a season. Next year will be its 30th year in business.

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