There’s a lot going on at Rooted Lounge 716, but somehow it all manages to work together. The ice cream and herbal blend business, located at 69 Allen Street, is owned and operated by Gizelle Stokes, along with her soon-to-be husband Chris Hinson. On top of everything else, they are tying the knot next week.
Gizelle, who also owns The Mindful Institute, has always been looking for ways to make people happier, by providing them with the holistic and nurturing resources that they require. So how did a person that is so involved with healing therapy and herbal medicine come to own an ice cream shop on Allen?
“Chris and I were eating at Café 59 across the street,” Gizelle told me. “Afterwards, we were looking to get an ice cream somewhere and realized that there was no place to get one. With so many restaurants in Allentown, we thought that there was an opportunity to start an ice cream business, while incorporating all the rest of my passions into the shop.”
And Gizelle has a lot of passions, all of which are based on teaching people how to live better lives. She’s passionate about plants, so there is a plant section in the shop. She’s also passionate about hemp, and all of its various applications. That means that there’s a hemp and CBD element (the shop is a licensed CBD retailer).
The business is aptly called Rooted Lounge 716, due to the plant aspect, but also the roots that Gizelle and Chris are planting in the community.
As for her selection of herbs, Gizelle is in the process of creating a full-blown station, where she will mix custom blends for teas, baths, incense, and even smokables. The herb bar will seamlessly complement the sweets station, which is being developed (including the ice cream).
And what goes best with ice cream? Cookies and pastries, of course. Gizelle and Chris have teamed up with a pastry outfit – Bee Sweets 716 – that is currently making drop-offs, while the back kitchen is being built out to accommodate the new baking element. At that time, there will be an in-house pastry chef who will be whipping up all sorts of sugary creations, to go along with the selections of Perry’s Ice Cream (including 4 dairy-free options).
“We asked the neighborhood what they wanted, and they said that they wanted some dairy-free ice cream, so we made sure to order some,” said Gizelle, as Chris scooped out an order of dairy-free apple strudel ice cream for me (in a cup, but they also have cones).”
“We also have gluten-free cookies,” said Chris, chiming in. “We have had lavender macaroons, rose strawberry shortcake, camomile cupcakes… we wanted to be different. These treats are all baked with the different herbs that we carry. It’s what makes us so different. In the summer, Gizelle makes a cold brew tea, and then when it gets cold out we will have hot teas, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate. She’s going to make a video that we will feature where she will discuss all of the holistic properties and the health benefits of the different herbs.”
Along with the room dedicated to ice cream and herbs, there is also a second room where private parties, block club meetings, pop-ups, and other community gatherings can be held.
“We have a teenager and triplets,” Chris told me. “It’s the perfect room to have a birthday party – between 15 and 30 people. It’s not like Chuck E. Cheese. We’re very creative people. This room is the perfect place for us to exercise that creativity. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we have a lot more to do!”
Rooted Lounge 716 is already hosting a wide range of events, from bridal showers to poetry readings. A number of the events will be based on Gizelle’s holistic interests, which stem from her work via The Mindful Institute. The Institute is centered around workplace wellness training – teaching amployees how to regulate their emotions. It was when she began incorporating herbal remedies into her practice – something that her employers loved – that she knew that she had to find a way to reach more people. Thus begat the formations of Rooted Lounge 716.
“One of my goals is to educate folks on how to use plants as medicine,” Gizelle explained. “Generally, people aren’t familiar with this. I’m planning on hosting breath work classes, tea workshops… I want to host conversations, to remind people to rethink what’s important.
“We’re going to create an ice cream bar featuring Perry’s Ice Cream (located in WNY). We even have non-dairy ice cream for dogs – we’re calling them Pup Cups. Beasley was our first customer. I think the neighborhood dogs will love a cold cup of ice cream on a hot summer’s day. We also have a selfie wall, where customers can take their pictures. This is a great little community – the residents and the business owners. We’re happy to be a part of that community.”
Whether you’re in the mood for a lavender-infused white chocolate chip cookie, butterfly tea lemonade, or your pup’s mouth is watering for a lick of ice cream, Rooted Lounge 716 has got you covered with an ever-changing menu.
The business has been open for two weeks now, and every day brings fresh new additions to the eclectic-yet-curated mix of offerings.
Rooted Lounge 716
69 Allen Street
Buffalo, NY 14202