The Chillwagon outside West Concord’s Reasons to be Cheerful. Courtesy photo

West Concord’s Reasons to be Cheerful closes its doors… for now

May 4, 2024

By Christine M. Quirk —

Things may be a little less cheerful in West Concord: The Reasons to be Cheerful ice cream shop is taking a break.

The building at 110 Commonwealth Avenue is being sold, and while the shop announced its closing on Facebook this week and said it would serve “the last scoop” Friday, owner Phil Rosenfield said Tuesday via text it might not be permanent.

“Right now, we are taking a few weeks to determine the best course,” he said. “We are not officially closed but will be on hiatus.”

Jill Block and Wade Rubenstein opened the eatery in 2011 and sold the business to Rick Steigler and Rosenfield in 2018. Steigler helped the original owners get the shop up and running.

Judy Rosenfield and Pam Levy with “the founder” of Reasons to be Cheerful. Courtesy photo

“I used to be a baker, and Wade approached me and asked if I wanted to make ice cream,” he said. “I thought, ‘How hard can it be?’ It was harder than I thought, but we managed to make it work.”

Rosenfield got involved in the ice cream business in 2018 after his son, Dewey, passed away.

“He always wanted to have a little bakery café,” he said. “He never got to see that. He was the epitome of Will Rogers; he never met a person he didn’t like.”

In the last few years, the shop has seen some changes. Steigler and Rosenfield added a takeout window and online ordering during the Covid pandemic.

They also introduced the Chillwagon ice cream truck to cater events.

About that cow

The shop has its share of memorable stories.

“What sticks in my mind is when we bought the cow,” Rosenfield said. 

“There’s a full-sized cow in our shop, and we call it our founder. When kids come in, they gravitate toward it. They want to touch it, they want to ride it — we had to screw it down into the floor.”

Will the cow be moo-ving on for good? Courtesy photo

Steigler said there have been many notable flavors over the years, including “Crunchy Frog Surprise” — green vanilla, chocolate-covered pretzels, and strawberry jam — crafted in memory of Chris Curtis, who ran the West Concord Five and Ten.

The West Concord location, Rosenfield said, has been perfect.

“I really like the community,” Rosenfield said. “I like meeting all the businesspeople in town; I like feeling a part of it.”

Should the shop close permanently, Rosenfield will head to the West Coast.

“My daughter lives in Washington state, and she’s going to have a baby in June,” he said. 

“I’m 71, so I guess the time I have left will be devoted to my family.”