Part Six of a Series on Local Food Sourcing
By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
An unassuming building at 206 Wait Street in Wake Forest is home to Lumpy’s Ice Cream. Named after Lumpy Rutherford of “Leave It to Beaver,” Lumpy’s is a business that owner Buck Buchanan grew slowly and carefully. In 2001, the friendly man with the handlebar mustache started making his ice cream from his home.
A chef by trade, Buchanan always loved cooking … and he loves ice cream. Beginning with an Emery-Thompson ice cream maker, his business grew with a patience that is unheard of in business today. He built a following at events, one cart at a time, while waiting for the right brick location with the right price and the right traffic.
Adhering to a simple product philosophy (to find the finest ingredients locally and craft them into the best ice cream without any preservatives, additives or synthetic hormones) and a simple selling philosophy (to make a simple, honest product at a simple, honest price), Buchanan finally opened his store in March 2012 in a structure built in 1969 as a Tastee Freez.
“The ice cream we make,” said store manager Kyle Darling, “has to be the same every time. We want it to be not just the best but also consistent. We taste every batch that is made every day to make sure it’s right. Our customers expect quality.”
The ingredients that go into each of the mouthwatering, jaw-dropping 300 flavors that rotate through the daily offerings are primarily local, including milk and cream from Maple View Farm in Hillsborough.
“All too often, we see farms being turned into developments because the land is worth more than the crops,” Buchanan said. “When we have a local farmer who believes in his land and in his community, then he’s going to raise his crops right. And when he raises his crops right, then our children grow up right. When we lose our local farms, we’re all in trouble.”
Buchanan wants to serve everyone, so Lumpy’s has gluten-free and peanut-free options. He is often asked for a dairy-free option, but he says that’s impossible. Nevertheless, he, like Patrick Robinette of Harris-Robinette Beef and Stephanie Farley of Walk Ahead Farm, learned an important lesson.
“Most people who are lactose intolerant are affected by the bovine growth hormones in commercial milk and cream,” Buchanan said. “We’re free of that. Our ice cream is artificial hormone free, antibiotic free. Most people don’t have an issue with it.”
Walk into Sugar On Top at 2010 South Main Street in Wake Forest and, if you’re from the North where bakeries are neighborhood fixtures, the first thing you’ll think is, “Oh, this smells like home! It smells so good!”
Denise Lull, whose business was long known as Daylight Donuts, has found that people don’t understand she merely rebranded.
“I’m still here,” she said. “I broke away from Daylight Donuts a long time ago.”
She now has a pastry chef working alongside her and her staff, and his strength, she said, is that he can create anything from scratch.
“We’re true scratch in what we do,” she added, “and that’s a big deal.”
Because of that approach to baking, her desserts caught the attention of Laszlo Lukacsi at Farm Table Kitchen & Bar. Rather than baking in house, Lukacsi opted for local, focused and authentic.
“One day, Laszlo walked into the store, larger than life, saying ‘I want this, I want that, I want this, too’,” Lull said, laughing at the memory, “and he’s eating and talking a mile a minute. Then he introduced himself and said he wanted those things for his restaurant.”
According to Lull, Lukacsi allows her free rein as long as she’s focused on being seasonal, uses the right fruits for the right desserts, and delivers fresh every day. Now she’s handling all their catering, and if someone compliments a dessert, Lukacsi hands over her business card. She knows that simple gesture has generated quite a lot of business for her, and her exquisite white chocolate banana caramel pudding and her unique chocolate pecan bourbon pie have become customer favorites.
Her cakes and pastries are also featured at Ollie’s, a new café and coffee shop on White Street in Downtown Wake Forest. When Lull read that they served pastries, she went over, talked with the owner – also named Denise – and brought her samples. Now Lull sells there every day. She also sells donuts at The Coffee Lodge in Rolesville and at Wake Crossroads.
“It’s been great,” she said of her relationship with Farm Table and Ollie’s. “It’s a nice mix because we can cover those parts of town. I don’t know why, but some people never come to (her store’s) part of town. Now, if people need a cake, they’ll think of us.”