Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Sweet Dream: Backed by the community, Urban Churn opens scoop shop in Midtown

Owner Adam Brackbill in his new Urban Churn retail shop.

It wasn’t even noon yet when Susan Bailey stepped into Urban Churn, the new scoop shop that opened for business just a half-hour before.

She was, let’s say, a little happy.

“I’m so excited, I can’t stand it,” she exclaimed, as she put in an order for several pints of ice cream, covering most of the eight flavors on the menu.

Yes, she said, she loves ice cream, especially from Urban Churn, a small-batch, craft producer that opened its first brick-and-mortar today on N. 3rd Street in the heart of Midtown Harrisburg.

But, even more, she loves small business, especially those with strong community foundations.

“It’s so hometown-y,” said Bailey, who came down from her artist’s studio in the Millworks. “This really adds something to the city and to Midtown.”

Score a win for owner Adam Brackbill, as that’s exactly what he intended when he chose this location, expanding from his small stand at the Broad Street Market up the street.

“Our business model fits in so well with this community,” he said. “Our shop and what we do is meant to be personal with people, and Midtown is the place to do that.”

Business was brisk on the first day, with Brackbill and his two employees taking orders and scooping up ice cream as quickly as they could. Bailey herself ordered five pints—mostly for friends, she said.

A reporter (OK, it was me) was lucky enough to enjoy the very first affogato (espresso poured over ice cream), a sweet concoction made with Elementary Coffee Co. beans. Brackbill was also serving up lemon bar sundaes and ice cream-topped brownies from another Broad Street Market vendor, Raising the Bar.

The path to get to this day wasn’t easy. Like many buildings in Midtown’s old commercial strip, the squat, clapboard structure needed a lot of work: electrical, plumbing, a new bathroom, new paint, etc.

The renovation cost far more than Brackbill anticipated when he selected what he described as “the perfect location.” So, he turned to the community for help. He started an online fundraising effort, which actually exceeded his $10,000 goal, with dozens of people contributing.

“This is a real community project,” Brackbill said.

Espresso is prepared for an affogato.

Bailey herself was one of the donors. She said that she was happy to support a community-based business started by a young, local entrepreneur, and the fact that it serves such delicious treats was only a bonus.

“We need to make connections in the community,” she said. “And this will help.”

Urban Churn is located at 1004 N. 3rd St., and is open Wednesdays through Sundays (except for Easter). For more information visit


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