Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the fundraiser at The Scoop was moved to Oct. 5.
Growing up, going out for ice cream was always a special treat for Potomac brothers Mitchell and Timothy Ryoo – yet another sweeter experience was watching the way their dad’s face would light up after just one spoonful of the frozen dairy treat.
“He was a diabetic, but he also loved ice cream,” Timothy, 30, said of his father, John, who died in 2019. “He would always get in trouble with my mom because he’d be sneaking our ice cream.”
“My mom would only take us to get ice cream, so [we’d] go and then bring it in and [he’d] run over and say ‘let me have a bite,’” Timothy said. “Even though he had diabetes, he was so happy from that one bite of ice cream. I think, psychologically, that’s what kind of made me and my brother get into this business because it’s like a happiness business.”
Natives of Montgomery County and graduates of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, the two opened their, The Scoop, in Cabin John Village with the mission of spreading happiness, much like eating ice cream made their father happy.
“If you look at our website, our unofficial slogan is scooping happiness one scoop at a time,” he said. “It’s just like always a happy vibe.”
In honor of their father, they also plan to add a sugar-free Ode to John flavor, but they are still deciding what that flavor should be.
Their plans for their flavors aren’t limited to expanding to those that are sugar free — they also plan to have vegan flavors. The shop recently debuted its vegan chocolate flavor with a coconut milk base.
Since all of the ice cream is hand-crafted by the duo daily, it’s easier for them to curate flavors.
“We have the ability to make whatever flavor we want at any given time,” Mitchell, 35, said. “We just need the right ingredients. If 100 people come in asking for a particular flavor, we have the ability to do that.”
A lot of the flavors in the shop are inspired by foods that the brothers enjoy such as coffee and biscuits or peach cobbler. Others are inspired by Mitchell’s travel experiences, including learning about the popularity of maple-flavored nuts in Boston or finding inspiration for sorbet flavors from a visit to Hawaii.
Mitchell said he also finds a way to give his flavors a unique twist.
“Of course, I do a lot of extensive research based on a lot of West Coast famous ice cream places over there to see what’s popular,” Mitchell said. “I won’t do a direct copy; I modify it in my own. There’s a lot of different flavors I’m still working on.”
Mitchell said they try to use as many natural ingredients as possible and use fresh fruit in their fruit-based flavors, while avoiding use of corn syrups.
A fun side of being a customer of The Scoop is the opportunity to request that a flavor be added to the menu.
“Once a month, we’re trying to work with our customers and if they have a flavor that they want, we’ll try our best, good or bad, to make it.”
This month, a customer pitched the idea of an animal cracker flavor that would be named after his daughter. So the brothers created the flavor Chloe’s Animal Crackers, which Timothy said tastes similar to birthday cake even though the ice cream has animal crackers in it. The brothers said it has become popular and might remain in rotation on the shop’s menu.
The store’s current best-selling flavor is cookie butter, which was previously bourbon toffee crunch.
As Potomac natives, they are also dedicated to giving back to the community through their business. They will hold their first fundraiser for Bells Mills Elementary School from 5 to-8 p.m. Oct. 5.
The community has also supported the business and the brothers have been able to build a staff of 18 to 20 local high school students and, according to Timothy, they are looking to hire more.
Timothy said his overall goal is to make his customers happy.
“My goal is everybody that walks out of that door is going out with a smile,” he said. “Even if our sales are not doing that great that day, it’s just like I made so many kids happy.”
Though Mitchell is focused on building business for The Scoop, he’s also looking to expand in the future.
“We want to make a name for ourselves in the DMV area so much that people in the West Coast know us,” he said.
The Scoop, 7909 Tuckerman Lane, is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.