Fluvanna Faces: Duncan Goodwin, owner

Pa Pa Jim’s Ice Cream

By Harvey J. Sorum

Tell us a little about yourself prior to opening Pa Pa Jim’s Ice cream.

I grew up in England and went to high school in New Jersey with my wife. She went to the University of Virginia and never came back. She is currently a teacher at Fluvanna County High School and I run an information technology company that my father started in 1985. We have lived in Troy for almost 15 years now.

When did you start your ice cream business?

We took over the business from the original owner, Jim Toms, in February of 2022. Jim started the shop in 2010.

Why did you locate Pa Pa Jim’s in Troy?

The location is fantastic. We get visitors from all over Fluvanna, Louisa, Charlottesville or Crozet. It was originally a farm stand that Jim turned into an ice cream shop so it has a road side stand feel to it. We get lots of folks travelling up and down Rt. 15 from all over.

What’s so unusual about your food and desserts?

I think our ice cream is the best tasting around. We get our mix direct from a farm in Pennsylvania. Also, the Flavor Burst system, which coats the vanilla ice cream in different flavors like cotton candy and cappuccino, gives us the ability to serve lots of options. We work really hard to get the best ingredients for our little shop.

We make our strawberry topping fresh from strawberries and our whipped cream is fresh too. Our Chipwich cookies are made by the high school culinary department. They also created a Pumpkin Shake for us last year. Our dog treats are handmade and were created by my 13-year-old daughter. The coffee shakes we created last year went through about 15 variations before we perfected the formula, thanks to a taste testing we had with some of our customers. We are starting a new dessert this year that is a mix of Italian ice and ice cream that our customers also are coming in to taste test for us. 

We have so many options that you can really create a custom dessert.

Do you periodically change your menu?

We have a new special dessert every month and a new flavor ice cream or Italian ice every month. We also have specials every day of the week. Monday our doggie treats are free, Tuesday anyone over 60 can get a free cone, Wednesday our Coffee Shakes are on sale and Thursday’s military and first responders get free ice cream. So, if you are retired military over 60 with a dog who likes coffee…

Describe your most unusual ice cream dish.

Gosh, we do so many unusual things. Our shakes are probably the most customizable because you can take any of our ingredients and mix them like Chocolate Peanut Butter with Fresh Banana Milkshake or Vanilla Malted with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I like our Strawberry Shakes the best. It is just our ice cream and fresh strawberry puree. Can’t go wrong with that.

Are children or adults your best

Every customer is our best customer. We love putting smiles on any face young or old. We really enjoy it when families come and spend some time together. The world moves so fast these days so taking 20 minutes to watch your kid (or grandkid) eat an ice cream with all the joy that comes along with it is truly special.

Offering an ice cream treat when your store is outside must be seasonal. Is yours? If so, when do you open and when do you shut down?

We are seasonal. We close the last weekend in October and open the first weekend in March. Even though we are closed the work doesn’t stop for us. We plan our menu a season in advance. We also plan our staffing at least a year in advance so we are always working, just not always serving ice cream. The more we can get sorted before the season the easier the season runs.

Has Pa Pa Jim’s been successful for you?

It has been very rewarding emotionally to run the shop. We have an awesome staff. Many are getting their first job experience with us and we work really hard to train them not just how to serve ice cream but also how to deal with customers and deal with the stress of having a job. We work hard to pair our younger staff with older staff who can mentor them and help them deal with the demands of having a job. We focus on our shop being a safe place to learn how to handle a job and act as an employee, not just make ice cream. The ice cream part is the easy thing, it is the responsibility of having a job, getting your shift covered, coming to work on time, cleaning, putting down your cell phone, working as part of a team that we focus on. We spend so much time in close quarters that these kids are very much like our own kids and we are so proud of them all. They are all unique and amazing in their own way. It really is a great group.

Anything else you want to add?

It has been an absolute joy for us to run Pa Pa Jim’s and continue the awesome work that Jim Tom’s started over a decade ago. We very much see ourselves as stewards of what he started. We are a mom and pop ice cream shop and we love to see families sitting at our tables spending time together. I wish we had more space and better parking so we could allow more people to relax and enjoy family while eating our ice cream, if anyone has a solution for that we are all ears. Free ice cream for a year if you can get us more parking! 

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