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Reasons To Be Cheerful - VisitingNewEngland small business partnership

Many Reasons to Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.

Why this special neighborhood ice cream shop gets 6 stars out of a possible 5 from VisitingNewEngland!

Tyler Smith, general manager at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Tyler Smith, general manager of Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 7/1/2019.

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Suddenly, the world feels so happy when walking into Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.

The delicious homemade ice cream made in small batches certainly serves as the foundation to that special feeling, but many other elements saturate the senses to create something even more truly memorable. The old colonial home setting with a front porch sets the tone for a most welcoming entrance en route to the fabulous ice cream, pastries, smoothies, ice cream cakes and fountain drinks.

Reasons To Be Cheerful Ice Cream Shop, West Concord, Mass.
Outside Reasons To Be Cheerful. Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.
 
The shiny wooden floors, tiled counter and colorful chalkboard menus evoke a classic neighborhood ice cream parlor from yesteryear while the renovation of that interior yields a relevant 21st century vibe. This delightful ice cream shop is named after the 1979 song of the same name by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. The song rapidly recites 40 reasons to be cheerful in a little over six minutes. The Concord ice cream shop has taken the marathon route going way beyond that number with more than 350 ice cream flavors created since its opening in 2011, not to mention all the memories created virtually every day.

General Manager Tyler Smith creates a wonderful tone for families, bicyclists taking a break from small-town USA scenes in Concord, local business people and all walks of life. A Texas native with degrees in sociology and advertising from Texas Tech Univesity, Tyler is gracious, thoughtful, friendly and authentic -- someone who feels like a good friend upon the very first time meeting. With a strong work ethic, his business card accurately states, "Does a little bit of everything, on brand."

Rick Steigler serves as a veteran employee presence. He has worked at Reasons To Be Cheerful from the beginning in 2010 and seems born to be involved with ice cream -- he, after all, hails from Hershey, Penn. Rick worked as a highly successful digital printing and customer wall coverings expert in a previous career, but found his niche making really tasty ice cream while being able to work myriad other aspects of the operation. In reference to Steigler's mission control-type efficiency, his business card states, "Person who gets things done." He has also attended the gold standard Penn State University ice cream course. Rick flat out knows his job responsbilities!

"Rick has been around forever," said Tyler with a deep respect for his co-worker.

New Owner Philip Rosenfield Fulfills a Business Dream

Philip Rosenfield has owned Reasons to Be Cheerful for a few years, taking over from the original owners Jill Block and Wade Rubenstein. Rosenfield once owned J.N. Phillips, a well-known auto glass company. He always wanted to own an ice cream shop. One day, Rosenfield left a note on the counter at Reasons To Be Cheerful, stating his desire to become involved with the business. Rosenfield did just that when Block and Rubenstein sold the business to him. He has elevated an already good business to great.

"People love the quality of the ice cream," said Tyler. "We're indoors with no bugs that you would get at an ice cream stand. We are essentially a neighborhood place and we give a lot back to the community."

Reasons to Be Cheerful ice cream shop, West Concord, MA.

Of Ice Cream, Happiness and Sense Of Community


Strawberry Ice Cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful Ice Cream in West Concord, Mass.
Strawberry chip ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Massachusetts residents certainly have their choice of ice cream destinations. Some "Best of" ice cream spots written about extensively locally and nationally feature attractions beside ice cream like mini golf, bumper boats and petting zoos  Most ice cream spots don't even make their own ice cream on the premises, but still get the crowds. Let's face it: When ice cream is great, it's simply mouthwatering and when it's bad... well, it's still pretty good. America loves its ice cream and the Bay State is no exception.

Red velvet ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Red Velvet Cake ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

The thing is, some people don't like the long lines, the presence of a business outside a real neighborhood, and the sad reality that many of these places are seasonal. It's like becoming a best friend with someone and then suddenly, they don't want to see you for most of the year.

Reasons To Be Cheerful stays open all year. They do have crowds -- especially during peak season -- but it never seems overwhelming. That's the beauty of a small business that never got too big for its own good and staying within a lane meant for the enjoyment of locals and visitors.  You can see that spirit in every one of Tyler and Rick's steps as good stewards and representatives of the neighborhood ice cream parlor. All employees here seem engaged and interactive with the public -- never too rushed to just go through the motions.

Crucially, Reasons To Be Cheerful makes its owns ice cream.  While they don't use the maximum butterfat content, the staff knows what to do with the ingredients for maximum, memorable tastes.

Making homemade ice cream at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Meghanne Cole makes the ice cream downstairs at Reasons To Be Cheerful.

When ice cream is made with love and creativity in the right combinations from good sourcing practices by people that know the industry, the possibilities are endless for fabulous ice cream. Reasons To Be Cheerful is that kind of place and always features at least 28 flavors with specials available every day to complement the current menu.

Ice cream menu from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
The ever changing ice cream menu at Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Innovation has always been mixed into the ice cream base. The Creamsicle infuses sweet cream into orange.  Guinness Ice Cream, made on St. Patrick's Day, includes Guinness ale, oatmeal, pralines and Irish cream. The Dorito's ice cream was made in memory of Rosenfield's son, who loved the snack. On April Fool's Day, Reasons To Be Cheerful held a contest in hopes of customers guessing the flavors, which turned out to be pickles, taco and black cotton candy. Chocolate birthday cake ice cream accurately takes the dense flavor of the cake and translates it well into the frozen treat.

St. Patrick's Day special: Guinness Ice Cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful, West Concord, mass.
Guinness ice cream.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

"We are producing all kinds of flavors," said Rick, also noting they turn out up to a ton of ice cream a week during peak season.

Chocolate birthday cake ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Chocolate birthday cake ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful. Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

Some of the most popular flavors: caramel pretzel, cookies & cream, black raspberry, Belgian chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and lemon sorbet.

Additionally, Reasons To Be Cheerful features a long row of mix-in selections for those who love a little variety in their ice cream cones, cups or sundaes.

Ice cream mix ins from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Add-on and mix-ins.

What's more, Reasons To Be Cheerful features a special mixing machine that can turn any hard serve ice cream into soft serve called swirl freeze!

"It's this big industrial blender," said Rick. "It can turn any ice cream we have into soft serve."

Turning hard serve ice cream into soft serve at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Rick Steigler converts hard serve ice cream into soft serve through a special blending machine.

One of the rising stars at Reasons To Be Cheerful: ice cream cakes. The whole cakes are made from scratch in the kitchen including two layers of homemade ice cream bound together with fudge and other goodies, then frosted with real chocolate and buttercream. Cake maker Rachel Coppersmith puts the finishing touches on each cake with unique toppings.

"She is like the 'Cake Boss' of Reasons To Be Cheerful," said Tyler. "Very talented."

Homemade ice cream cake from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, MA.
Ice cream cake from Reasons To Be Cheerful.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

"I don't think anyone in New England does this kind of quality," said Rick, of the ice cream cakes. "There's no Cool Whip. We do buttercream. A lot of effort goes into them."

While many bring the ice cream cakes back for celebrations and events, some just can't resist to eat these forms of tasty art right at Reasons To Be Cheerful...

Enjoying ice cream cake on the front porch at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Enjoying ice cream cake on the front porch at Reasons To Be Cheerful.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

In addition to ice cream and frozen cakes, Reasons To Be Cheerful also offers hot drinks including Cappucino, chai latte, coffee, espresso, hot chocolate, latte, mocha and tea. Iced drinks are quite popular on hot days: affogatto (an Italian coffee-based dessert), egg cream, extra thick frappes, frappes, ice cream soda, iced chai latte, iced coffee, iced mocha, iced tea, malted frappes, raspberry lime rickey and smoothies.

Artfully made hot chocolate fro, Reasons To Be Cheerful ice cream in West Concord, Mass.
A nice cup of hot chocolate.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

Chocolate chip cookies come fresh out of the oven as a perfect complement to the ice cream or a drink...

Chocolate chip cookies from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

Reasons To Be Cheerful also offers another reason to be cheerful: The Chillwagon,  a truck that delivers the homemade ice cream to events and celebrations like graduations, carnivals, camps, birthdays, office parties, weddings, field days, pep rallies, grand openings, promotional events, barbecues and bar and bat mitzvahs. They also do traditional catering, taking care of everything from start to finish for pickup or delivery.

The sense of community fostered at Reasons To Be Cheerful stands as another joyful element to this caring, thoughtful small business. The walls in the back room that encourage curiosity, creativity, community and culture are filled with revolving local school projects.

The back room at Reasons To Be Cheerful Ice Cream in West Concord, mass., is filled with revolving school projects.
Community room at Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Local students not only come for the ice cream, but sometimes assistance such as a local Girl Scout Troop who helped make, to no surprise, mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Girl Scouts help make mint chocolate chip ice cream at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, Mass.
Local Girl Scouts group at Reasons To Be Cheerful. Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

Reasons to Be Cheerful, at this writing, sponsors nearly 50 local organizations including Acton Barn Cooperative Nursery School, Camp Erin, the Concord Carlisle High School Boys Hockey Team, Concord Chamber Music, Concord Free Public Library, Dermatology Associates of Concord, Hanscom Air Force Base Spouses Club, Lowell Summer Music Series, and the West Concord Union Church.

"We are not a giant company, but have big hearts and are happy to support the local communities," said Tyler.

Wall art from local students featured at Reasons To Be Cheerful ice cream shop in West Concord, Mass.
Wall art at Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Reasons To Be Cheerful also features conversation pieces like the big plastic cow. Apparently, Wayfair had just what Reasons To Be Cheerful needed as they bought this cow from the online furniture giant.

Plastic cow at Reasons To Be Cheerful ice cream shop in West Concord MA.
Decorative cow at Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Conclusion: A Perfect Fit for West Concord, Perfect Place For Locals

Peppermint stick ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, MA.
Peppermint stick ice cream from Reasons To Be Cheerful. Photo source: Reasons To Be Cheerful Facebook Fan Page.

Reasons To Be Cheerful was meant to be in West Concord. This friendly section of Concord has a nearly idyllic, serviceable downtown with an old fashioned five and dime, health food store, seafood market, bread shop and bakery, gift and furniture stores, upscale and comfort food restaurants and antiques. It all comes together beautifully with Reasons To Be Cheerful representing the quintessential neighborhood ice cream shop. There aren't too many of these town center ice cream spots left in the Boston area, so it's a revelation to see Reasons To Be Cheerful filling a need that never should have gone away or succumbed to the chains. The neighborhood knows this to be true as well as the travelers, local employees as the overall experience at Reasons To Be Cheerful comes across as sweet and memorable as the ice cream. Soon, Hudson, Mass., will be the next beneficiary as Reasons To Be Cheerful plans to open there soon.

"This is super-premium ice cream that's done all by hand," said Rick. "People love it and always come in with a smile. It's a good place to be."

And that's the whole story of why we give Reasons To Be Cheerful six stars out of a possible five!


Reasons To Be Cheerful is located at 100 Commonwealth Ave., West Concord, MA. Tel. (978) 610-6248.
Log onto the Reasons To Be Cheerful, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter feed and Instagram page for more information.


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Happy place: Reasons To Be Cheerful Ice Cream Parlor in West Concord, Mass. This old-fashioned ice cream place specializes in homemade ice cream, sundaes, ice cream cakes, frappes, soft serve ice cream and lots of community involvement.


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