Aug 19, 2022 - Food and Drink

Nashville soft serve shop offers delicious nostalgia

A hand holding an ice cream cone.
Photo: Alison Carmona Rau

At the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Porter Road in East Nashville, entrepreneur Austin Bauman has fashioned a former gas station into a time portal back to your childhood.

  • Inside, there's a combination skateboard shop, toy store and soft serve ice cream stand.

Why it matters: The trio of businesses — Cecil's Skate Shop, Tabla Rasa Toys and Soft Service Station — combines to offer one of the city's more unique and welcoming outdoor spaces.

  • The ice cream shop has outdoor tables next to a see-saw.
  • A small public skate park occupies one corner of the property.

What he's saying: "We all remember that dairy dip ice cream stand from our childhood. When you have soft serve, it takes you back," says Bauman, who also launched the Green Fleet Bikes and Shelby Ave Bicycle Co. shops.

Be smart: Soft Service Station is one of just a few soft serve ice cream shops in Nashville.

  • The menu is simple: vanilla, chocolate or swirled ice cream in a cone, with a choice of toppings.
  • It also offers a small coffee menu. In a stroke of culinary genius, Soft Service Station sells ice cream-and-coffee combinations.

Zoom in: The toy store is a whimsical rainbow of retro offerings.

  • You can browse its collection — which includes crayons, puzzles, trucks and a make-your-own-fort kit — online.

💭 Nate's thought bubble: I took two visits to Soft Service Station. The first was with my wife and our boys, ages 11 and 8.

  • They were definitely buying what Bauman was selling. Maddux and Everett sucked down their ice cream cones, then got into a pretty ferocious brother fight on the see-saw. The 11-year-old cruelly kept his younger brother suspended in mid-air, and a minor boo-boo ensued.
  • Watching them toggle between ice cream and goofing around felt very nostalgic to me.
  • I also went with Adam on a grumpy Thursday afternoon, but I could not possibly stay fussy after drinking one of the cold brew floats.

💭 Adam's thought bubble: I insisted on tagging along with Nate on his second visit. My soft-serve affogato — which merged a perfect swirl of vanilla with a rich pour of espresso — was a delight.

  • This corner of East Nashville feels like a hidden gem now, but I could easily see it becoming a weekly staple for folks of all ages.
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