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Sweet Cooie’s Brings the Tiffany of Ice Cream to Congress Park

An elegant throwback to ice cream parlors of the past

Photo: Lori Midson

The nickname game, recalls Paul Tamburello, was the brainbox of his younger sister Therese. “She had this great ability to nickname just about everyone,” including, says Tamburello, their late father, whose nickname is synonymous with a mile-high milk can in LoHi: Little Man Ice Cream or, as most of us call it, the ice cream king. Now, Tamburello is celebrating the life of his recently deceased mother Elaine by gracing the Congress Park neighborhood, where he grew up, with an ice cream queen, endearingly named Sweet Cooie’s Ice Cream & Confectionary {3505 East 12th Avenue, 720.550.7140}. “When we were little, my sister nicknamed our mom ‘Cooie’ because whenever we’d come home, my mom would wrap us in her arms, and we’d always make this audible, almost cooing sound,” remembers Tamburello, who coincided the opening of Sweet Cooie’s with another calendar date that summons love: Valentine’s Day.

Photo: Lori Midson

“The theme for this whole thing is built around my mother,” says Tamburello, who honors his mom throughout the space with lovely sentiments, including a powerful epitaph at the entrance that simply states: “Elaine Tamburello was a woman with gumption.” And her favorite color, notes her son, was blue. And blue—specifically Tiffany turquoise blue—is the hue of his ice cream parlor, which may very well be one of the most beautifully embellished confection shops on the map. “My mom grew up in Chicago, and while she suffered through the Great Depression, she always had this flair for beautiful things, and we wanted to carry that theme throughout the shop,” adds Tamburello, who did exactly that. The old-fashioned, jewel-box-size space, designed by Xan Creative and bedecked with vintage light fixtures, a marble counter-top, retro brass accents, curved booths, textured blue wallpaper, candy-apple-red chairs, an indoor-outdoor bar and eye candy galore, is nothing short of exquisite.

Photo: Lori Midson

The same can be said of the parlor’s confection collection, a delectable display of housemade ice cream, including sorbet and sherbet; soda fountain-style malts and shakes, plus sundaes and splits; hand-crafted chocolate truffles; shortbread and imported pecan and vanilla Scottish toffee from Stewart’s Crumpets & Confections, a local purveyor in Greenwood Village; hot pink cotton-candy coiffed waffle cones; eclairs brimming with ice cream; and the Gooey Cooie, a warm brioche bun, glazing with icing and sandwiched with ice cream. Come summer, everyone will be screaming for one of those. The lines, like at Little Man, will wrap around the block. Get used to it. It’s all for a good cause.

Photo: Lori Midson

That’s the thing about Tamburello: He’s all about giving back and contributing to the greater good. To that end, Sweet Cooie’s, in the same vein as Little Man, will donate a portion of its ice cream scoop sales to non-profits, most notably charitable organizations—local and global—that empower women. “Even in her last days, my mother had a little twinkle in her eye, and when I asked her if she was afraid to die, she said that death was her next great adventure,” says Tamburello, adding that the purpose of Sweet Cooie’s is far greater than simply scooping ice cream: “We want to take and capture who you are as a woman and do anything we can to support who you want to be. We want to support women on their next great adventure.” Bonus: You can also write notes to your mom, sister, daughter or best girlfriend on the shop’s already postmarked vintage postcards; the team at Sweet Cooie’s will even pop them in the mail.

Photo: Lori Midson

Sweet Cooie’s is open daily from 11 am-11 pm.

By Lori Midson