Just in time for the heat of summer, a new artisan ice cream and chocolate shop has opened its doors in downtown Cortez.
The brand-new Moose & More, located next to the Sunflower Theatre on Main Street, features all homemade ice creams and sorbets made with all-natural ingredients as well as an assortment of in-house made chocolates and truffles.
After stints in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and coastal Oregon, owners Brent and Rachel McWhirter decided to move to Rachel's hometown of Mancos and open up a business in downtown Cortez that combined their passions for the hospitality industry and love of cooking.
"We just saw an opportunity for a niche business that was missing from downtown," he said.
The wide assortment of homemade ice cream flavors include classics: rocky road with homemade marshmallows and mint chocolate chip with fresh mint, orange creamsicle made with blood oranges for a extra punch of natural sweetness, among others. There are also more decadent flavors like the blueberry cheesecake, which is made with cheesecake the couple baked and blended in to the ice cream, laced with swirls of Rachel's grandmother's fresh blueberry pie filling. Even the waffle cones the ice cream is served in are made in-house, Brent said.
For those looking for non-dairy options, the prickly pear sorbet and Meyer lemonade sorbet are also two options.
Brent, a former wildlife photographer, has hung some of his moose photos on the shop's walls.
Their signature flavor is the muddy moose, with a creamy chocolate ice cream dotted with chunks of peanut butter cups.
The shop also offers homemade chocolates and truffles, recipes that Rachel honed while working in a chocolate shop in coastal Oregon and learned in her mother's kitchen.
"Candymaking was something we always do during Christmas time," she said, adding that having family so close is great for recipe-consulting.
Moose & More had a soft opening on May 5, and business has been steadily trickling in. During the renovation process, the McWhirters left the windows uncovered so people could follow along with their progress and see that something new was in the works.
Growing up in Mancos, Rachel has memories of coming to Cortez's main street for the movies and not much else. Moose & More's new location also puts them across the street from the Fiesta Theatre, and right next door to the new Sunflower Theatre. Just up the block is cluster of Main Street restaurants that some have dubbed "restaurant row."
The couple says it's an exciting prospect to be back in Rachel's hometown and contribute to this area's growing small business momentum.
"It's so great to see downtown Cortez doing so well," she said.
Moose & More is having a grand opening celebration on May 16.
The shop is located at 12 E. Main Street and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.