He had a milkshake. She had a twist with chocolate sprinkles in a cup. It was July 2007, and the Elmendorfs were enjoying a first date over ice cream.
Five years later, they would marry. And a few months after that, they would own the ice cream store where they had their first date.
“I remember her saying that she’d like to own this one day,” recalled David Elmendorf. “Well, it became available, and the rest is history.”
David and Libby Elmendorf decided they would buy Bumpy’s Polar Freeze just a few days after meeting with the owners, who put the store on the market in May after 16 years in the business.
“I had just read that Bumpy’s was for sale, went up and talked to the owner, called my wife and said, ‘Hey, do you want to buy this?’ and she said, ‘Yup,’ ” he recalled.
Until then, they had never actively sought out the business.
They bought the 2013 State St. business earlier this month for $265,000, a few thousand dollars below the asking price and about $20,000 less than previous owners David and Theresa Byrnes paid for it back in 1997. The Elmendorfs do not own the actual property yet, though — they signed a seven-year lease with the option to buy the site at the end of the second year, he said.
The store came with eight bumper boats that are a big summer draw for local kids.
Elmendorf was already at work on improvements Wednesday, painting the concrete around the pool. He said customers shouldn’t expect much to change at the store, aside from much-needed cosmetic improvements. They’re working to replace a retaining wall at the front of the shop, which was falling down when they arrived.
“The bumper boat pool hasn’t been as clear as it should be the past few years,” he said. “That’s because the filters are 22 years old. So we have to replace the whole water filtration system, as well.”
They also want to upgrade the electrical system and install Wi-Fi. Elmendorf also plans to install a rock-climbing wall he and his wife bought and rented out over the summer to Capital Region parties and fundraising events under the name Capital District Mobile Rock Wall.
The Elmendorfs, who live in Glenville and are both 27, appear to be throwing themselves whole hog into their new business. David Elmendorf quit his job at the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked for three years, to ready the new business for a March opening.
They also put their house up for sale and are looking to buy or build a house in Niskayuna to be closer to the business.
“We’ve always been driven,” said David Elmendorf. “If I get my mind set, I do it.”
He grew up on Marshall Avenue, not far from Bumpy’s, and spent summers frequenting the shop.
The Elmendorfs have no experience in the food service industry, a fact that has not worried them. Libby Elmendorf wants to buy a Cuisinart ice cream maker she saw in Crossgates Mall so she can practice making ice cream cones before the big opening.
The couple plans to keep the menu about the same, but add to it slowly over time. They also plan to open a few weeks earlier than usual, at the beginning of May, and close for the season on Halloween.
“We looked at this as a great investment,” David Elmendorf said. “We’ll have the bumper boats and the ice cream and then including the rock wall, I think it’s going to draw a ton of kids.”
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