INDIANAPOLIS — Carl Gordon opened "Gordon's Milkshake Bar" on Mass Ave in December, just three months before the coronavirus crisis was set to hit Indianapolis.
If the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting local small businesses, Gordon wouldn't know much about that.
"It's been better for us. Due to the fact that we're something sweet. Because a lot of people around are locked up in the house working, and they just want to come out and get something," Gordon said. "I truly feel it's because we're doing desserts."
That might be the case, but Gordon's hand-crafted milkshakes and dessert dishes have been gaining traction with the foodies of Indianapolis since it opened in late 2019. It was voted one of the best dessert bars in Indianapolis by Indy Star in February, and Gordon's ice cream nachos was recently featured in Indy Monthly.
"We started to see a lot of progress," Gordon said of when his milkshake bar first opened. While staying open, he's noticed different trends shifting, and had to adjust accordingly, such as his hours. "But, since the virus started, we kinda changed the game around."
Gordon has been in the ice cream game since 2014. When he started selling shamrock shakes at the Indianapolis Irish Fest was when he realized he might be able to venture into his own business.
"For some reason, we ended up being successful at the Irish Fest, and I decided to take the gain from that and turn it over from that and turn it into a milkshake bar," Gordon said. "I thought we had a good run. I was like, 'Woah, this is something.'"
Gordon has always had his eye on Mass Ave. The right timing and opportunities are what led Gordon to open his new storefront on the north end of Mass Ave, near the upcoming Bottleworks District.
The 37-year-old still has his near east side building (2902 East Tenth St.), where he started serving soft-serve ice cream, under "Gordon's Ice Cream Parlor." Now that space serves as a place for churning his ice cream and storing products.
"It wasn't something that I thought I wanted to be doing after culinary school, but I worked for IU Methodist, and I was doing ice cream on the weekends as a side hustle job," Gordon said. "It's always been something that I like doing. It was something fun to do on the weekends."
"It's my niche," Gordon continued. "This is basically the last thing on earth I would prefer to be doing."
Gordon's Milkshake Bar
865 Massachusetts Ave
Tuesday - Sunday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
We're Open Indy Special Update: Christmas Eve
WRTV began its efforts with "We're Open Indy" in March of 2020 as a way to highlight local businesses' efforts to adapt and provide a boost to help them get through the pandemic. Not all of them made it. But those that have are still facing an uphill battle. We worked to get updates from some of the business owners we spoke to earlier in the year to hear how it's been for them and what they project the near future of their businesses to be like.
WRTV caught up with Carl Gordon recently. He says even though he had a great few months of business starting in April, the entire first year of him being open was a challenge.
In order to withstand the shutdowns and restrictions, Gordon had to remember to be humble about things not being the way he wanted when he initially opened. Gordon loves to make desserts look pretty and wants the time patrons spend in his Milkshake Bar to be a pleasant experience.
"This is not what I wanted for my desserts," Gordon said. "I wanted them on plates!"
"We ran into complications because of the dynamics of our menu. Our menu was created ... differently," he said.
The milkshake artist is waiting to see how the pandemic continues and what kind of a reaction the Bottleworks District, across the street from his storefront, will receive. Although he is fine with carry out orders and an empty dining spot, he continues to hope there will be a time he can welcome guests in to enjoy his desserts in the fashion that he entailed them to be in.