After four years of scooping brightly colored ice cream for Islanders of all ages, Scot Bobo, owner of Coach Scot’s Main Street Sweets, has decided to close shop for good as of November 30.
“The winters are tough,” says Bobo, “And every year we hope that the summer will extend longer, but it just doesn’t happen.”
Bobo knows that many Islanders’ first reactions will be to point fingers at Hudson/Related, the real estate firm charged with managing Island retail, and complain about rents, but he thinks that assumption is unfair. “Everyone blames it on Hudson/Related, but in truth it’s not them. They’ve been great, so supportive. Honestly if you can’t pay your rent, you shouldn’t be in business.” He says the real problem is that the costs of doing business – supplies, insurance, and payroll – were not offset by sufficient sales.Bobo thinks the lack of foot traffic on Main Street is likely to be an ongoing problem for Main Street retail. “Retail prospects stop by and look around. They see who’s on the streets or in the stores. I talked to a prospect who just didn’t see the traffic and didn’t sign the lease.” He says that his wife thinks the space will become a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Bobo moved to Roosevelt Island over 20 years ago with his wife, Denise. They settled in Westview and raised their two children here: son Jonah and daughter Georgia. Bobo refers to them as “homegrown Roosevelt Islanders.”
His intention from the beginning was to become more involved on the Island. “When the retail spaces became available, it became a good way to get more involved and bring services to the community that it wanted and didn’t have,” recalls Bobo. “When Hudson/Related polled the community, the community said what they wanted most was an ice cream and coffee shop.” Yet, as he says now, “It turns out, that’s not what people wanted.
“Every year we try something different. We had sandwiches the first year. We’ve been doing soup,” Bobo says of the different approaches they’ve taken to rebrand and remain a destination year ’round. “Maybe if we were a coffee shop that served ice cream we would have done better. Then we could have sold coffee for $4 or $5, more than we charge for a scoop of ice cream.”
The Roosevelt Island community has always been very important to Bobo and his family. In fact, Bobo says he did not start coaching Little League because his son was playing; he started coaching as soon as they moved here.
“A lot of kids and their parents came to know me as Coach Scot,” Bobo says. “When we were coming up with names for the store, the designer and my wife told me that we had to use that name.” Last season, Bobo coached Little League in the Roosevelt Island Center of Community Development League (RICCD).
“We go to a lot of events and activities that take place here.” Lately, Coach Scot has offered Fall Ball, a weekend baseball workshop, and a variety of other programs through the store, including employing interns from The Child School and donating all tips to Island organizations.
“I left the top shelf empty [when originally decorating the store] for customers to add some of themselves, and look, it’s all full,” says Bobo looking around at the shop. “I am going to have to call people to come and get their stuff.”