Sweet Ritual, the North Loop vegan ice cream shop, is now temporarily closed because of the pandemic. The 4631 Airport Boulevard hiatus began on Monday, January 31.
“We are exhausted from pivoting,” owner Amelia Raley tells Eater over email. The reasons for the closure include pandemic adjustments; the 2021 winter storm where they lost power and a week of operations (“We still paid our staff for a week of work even though we got exactly $0 from our insurance company and lost a week of sales and a huge lot of ice cream,” she says); variant surges impacting summer and winter sales; and broken ice cream machines that couldn’t be repaired because of issues with the supply chain, which also impacted items like scoop cups and lids.
Sales have also been down for the ice cream shop. Raley shares that “we saw 30,000 fewer people walk through our doors last year,” compared to 2019. There’s been “a blanket 30 percent increase in raw goods across the board,” as well, all while the shop pays their employees living wages and also a high commercial rent. Additionally, Sweet Ritual founding partner Valerie Ward left the company in 2021 to attend business school.
“I just need a pause to figure out what business post-COVID will look like,” Raley says. “I’m confident if I can take a break and regroup that we can come back stronger for this summer.”
Raley and Ward opened Sweet Ritual in 2011 within a Hyde Park JuiceLand on Duval Street. They relocated the shop to Airport Boulevard in 2016. The shop will continue to provide ice cream for downtown shop Toy Joy (which it has been since 2017) as well as Tiny Grocer and the Museum of Ice Cream. The shop had partnered with vegan pizza spot Li’l Nonna’s to open a restaurant in Tech Ridge, Big Nonna’s, in 2020, but Raley’s partnership portion was bought out in December 2021.
Update, 1:15 p.m.: This article, originally published on 11:02 a.m., has been updated to clarify when Ward left Sweet Ritual and the statuses of Sweet Ritual’s other ventures.