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Urban Churn scoops up national Arooga’s account

Harrisburg-based ice cream maker focuses on small batches using motorized Amish churns

Adam Brackbill's Harrisburg-based ice cream company Urban Churn will soon have its ice cream on the menu at Arooga's Grille House & Sports Bar. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

The Long Island village of Patchogue is about to get its first taste of small-batch Harrisburg ice cream.

That’s because Urban Churn, an ice cream maker that uses motorized Amish churns, has inked a national deal with restaurant chain Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar.

Swatara Township-based Arooga’s will open its first Long Island franchise this weekend and Urban Churn’s vanilla ice cream will be part of the dessert menu.

“I’m excited for the logo to be on the menus,” Adam Brackbill, the owner of Urban Churn, said after finalizing the deal with Arooga’s.

In a typical summer month, Urban Churn makes about 150 gallons of ice cream. The Arooga’s deal, which will include supplying the 10 corporate locations in Central Pennsylvania and all future franchise locations, should be at least 350 gallons of ice cream per month, Brackbill said.

He’s already looking for a much larger production facility — at least 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, preferably in the city — to keep up with future growth at Arooga’s and other restaurants.

“This is a good push for that (move),” he said, having just a couple hundred square feet in the back of the Midtown Cinema building in Midtown Harrisburg. “I’m trying my hardest to stay within the city and trying to find the right space at the right price.”

He will be adding three more churns to produce the ice cream and hiring part-time help to handle some of the manufacturing.

“Right now, I’m wearing all the hats,” Brackbill said. “I do want to start having a normal life.”

Gary Huether, Jr., president and co-founder of Arooga’s, said partnering with Urban Churn made a lot of sense as the chain has focused more and more on menu items made with no antibiotics.

Plus, Urban Churn “makes a great product,” he said. “I believe this deal will allow (Adam) to grow into a facility that will support our growth.”

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The plan is to develop a milkshake lineup around the local ice cream brand, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic root beer floats, Huether said. Other ice cream flavors could also be in the mix for future desserts.

“A lot of times people forget we’re a local company,” he said, referencing other product partnerships Arooga’s has with Pizza Boy Brewing Co. on a Wingstinguisher beer that will again be served in all local restaurants beginning next week.

Arooga’s also is partnering with Troegs Independent Brewing on a new beer batter using Troegenator beer for the chain’s onion rings and fried pickles. And Huether is in talks with other local food companies about menu partnerships that could take those brands national.

It all depends on what makes that product stand out, he said. Those partnerships help the small vendors grow, plus Arooga’s is able to do more in-store events and build promotions around those community partners.

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