Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Here’s the Scoop: Urban Churn to open ice cream shop in Harrisburg.

Owner Adam Brackbill stands outside the future home of Urban Churn.

It’s a sweet contradiction.

Harrisburg is home to Hershey’s Ice Cream, one of the region’s largest producers, but residents have few choices if they just want to walk down the street for a scoop or a cone.

Adam Brackbill is set to change that.

Come spring, Brackbill plans to open an Urban Churn scoop shop and production center on the 1000-block of N. 3rd Street, in the heart of Midtown Harrisburg.

“I’ve had my eye on that location for years,” said Brackbill, who also co-owns the st@rtup Harrisburg co-working space in Midtown. “You can call it fate or coincidence or whatever, but that place opened up just as I needed to move.”

Brackbill launched Urban Churn after locals told him that the Harrisburg area needed more—and better—ice cream options. The idea intrigued him, as his family had a tradition of making ice cream during family gatherings, including some creative, non-traditional flavors.

So, in 2013, he launched Urban Churn, making handcrafted ice cream in a snug area tucked behind Midtown Cinema on Reily Street. The product caught on, and he soon got orders from numerous area retailers and restaurants, including Arooga’s as the restaurant chain began expanding.

A stand inside the Broad Street Market followed, where, on warm days, a long line often forms for the richly flavored ice cream that includes both traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and novelties like mango habanero, wasabi, cucumber and melon and a New Year’s-inspired sauerkraut flavor, which has gained some national press.

Needing larger production space, Brackbill moved his operations to a suburban warehouse, but that facility proved to be too big. So, for his next move, he decided to focus on what he really wanted—a central location that would offer room for both production and retail.

Brackbill now expects to open in March at 1004 N. 3rd St., which briefly housed the Savage Habit boutique and, before that, Crabby Choice, which sold Hershey’s ice cream. In addition to 12 flavors (10 permanent, two rotating), the shop will feature homemade waffle cones, shakes, floats, ice cream sandwiches and an Urban Churn specialty, the affogato, an ice cream and espresso treat made with locally roasted coffee beans.

The interior, he said, will be warm and welcoming, with bright colors, a wall mural and long tables to accommodate families and encourage conversation.

“Ice cream is a family thing,” he said. “No one gets a sad face when they eat ice cream.”

Brackbill plans to retain his stand in the Broad Street Market, which he considers his test laboratory for new flavors.

Before he can open his store, though, he needs to make extensive improvements to the building, including upgrades to both the plumbing and electricity. To that end, he launched a crowd-funding initiative today.

“The amount of support we’ve had by the public has been the most encouraging part of this business,” he said. “We know that people will continue to support us so we can get things right.”

Urban Churn expects to open in late March at 1004 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. For more information on Urban Churn, visit or the Facebook page. Click here to donate to Urban Churn’s new location crowd-fundraising project.

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