Local firefighter opens new ice cream stand

  • Station 16 employee Mekyra Niemala makes an Ava Special – a vanilla sundae on a warm brownie, with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research in the name of Ava Woo dard Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Station 16 employee Mekyra Niemala makes an Ava Special – a vanilla sundae on a warm brownie, with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research in the name of Ava Woo dard Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Station 16 employee Mekyra Niemala makes an Ava Special – a vanilla sundae on a warm brownie, with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research in the name of Ava Woodard. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Station 16 employee Mekyra Niemala makes an Ava Special – a vanilla sundae on a warm brownie, with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research in the name of Ava Woo dard Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/4/2021 3:48:50 PM

There’s a new Station 16 in Jaffrey.

Before this summer, if you were talking about Station 16, it would be the Jaffrey Fire Department you were referring to – that’s the station radio call sign. But now, from April to August, if you mention Station 16, it’s more likely to be referring to a portable ice cream stand that has popped up on Peterborough Street, in place of the former Tyler’s Ice Cream.

The name is no coincidence. Chastity Hodgson and her father, Keith Dupuis, who are partners in the venture along with Chastity’s husband Steven and her mother Leah Dupuis, are long-time members of the Jaffrey Fire Department.

It was, in fact, on a response call that the very idea for Station 16 was born.

Hodgson isn’t a stranger to the ice cream business, she said at an interview at the ice cream stand. She worked for Tyler’s Ice Cream since the eighth grade.

“It was so fun,” she said. “I would get to know the people, and I would have their order ready when they came to the window.”

Hodgson is still a member of the Jaffrey Fire Department, as well as starting her career as a nurse at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, but said she had a lingering daydream about being able to pick up a shift at Tyler’s on the occasional day off.

She and some of her fellow firefighters were talking after a call to a motor vehicle crash, and she mentioned she would open an ice cream stand, if she could.

In the way of tight-knit groups, she said, it wasn’t long before one of those firefighters mentioned it to her father, Assistant Chief Keith Dupuis.

He called her up, and said “I heard you’re interested in running an ice cream stand.”

Hodgson admitted she might have said something like that.

“So, let’s do it,” her father told her.

From there, it was officially off to the races, Hodgson said.

Hodgson said her parents went in 50-50 with her and her husband on the business, and have been sharing a lot of their expertise as business owners and helping set up the site and trailer for Station 16, but most of the day-to-day operations have been left to her. She said she decided not to mess with success, and many of her menu items will be familiar to former customers of Tyler’s – as will the ice cream, as both the soft and hard serve are sourced from Blake’s Creamery in Manchester, the same company as the former ice cream stand.

The stand officially opened for the first time on April 23, and despite a few rainy days in its first week, business has been brisk, Hodgson said, particularly on opening weekend.

“Even when it was cold, we had a line across the parking lot,” Hodgson said.

Many returning customers, Hodgson said, are met with their old orders, just as she did when she was an employee of Tyler’s.

But there is one new item on the menu – the Ava Special. It’s a sundae – while the stand sells various kinds of soft and hard serve ice cream, sundaes are its most popular menu item – devised by Hodgson’s 10-year-old cousin, Ava Woodard, who is currently fighting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, a rare form of cancer.

The sundae – a warm brownie with vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, and extra whipped cream – was devised by Ava herself, and a portion of the proceeds from each one sold will be donated to DIPG research. It’s become a popular item, Hodgson said, selling about 100 in the first week.

Station 16 is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. through the summer. For more information and menu options, visit the Station 16 Ice Cream Facebook page.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com.

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