LiftOff Creamery Is Ready For, Well, Liftoff

LiftOff Creamery is the newest resident in the Penn Arts building

Terry Kirts

By trade he’s a commercial pilot for Republic Airways and founder of the NAYR Foundation, a nonprofit organization exposing youth to educational opportunities and experiences with a focus on aviation. But Ryan Lynch also has a serious sweet tooth. These two loves recently found a home at Lynch’s shiny new ice cream shop, LiftOff Creamery, which had its soft opening in the Penn Arts Apartments building at the corner of 16th and Pennsylvania streets on September 23 and has been scooping up smiles for Herron Morton and Old Northside ice cream lovers the last couple of weeks.

Riveted steel tables made from actual airplane wing components, as well as photos of the children who have participated in NAYR Foundation programs, decorate the small storefront, which offers traditional cups and cones, as well as shaved ice, sundaes, floats, and boba sodas. Ice cream flavors, supplied by Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream from Western Michigan, mostly take their names from aviation terms. Order enough varieties, and you’ll soon sound like a pilot with a full lexicon of cockpit lingo. Zulu Time? That’s military jargon for Greenwich Mean Time—or delectable Michigan black cherry ice cream. 7700? That’s a pilot’s code to the air traffic controls that there’s an emergency. In this case, it’s a scoop of black tar–thick fudge ice cream with chocolate chunk “asphalt,” and you’ll need to eat it before it melts. Shakes, which you can get with any of the daily flavors, are some of the thickest, richest around, so be sure to ask for a spoon.

The creamery is welcome news for a strip of neighborhood shops that has fallen on hard times. The address has seen a series of short-lived bakeries and businesses fold, and nearby Thirsty Scholar continues to stand empty since it closed suddenly in June of 2018. And while the summer ice cream season is tapering off, any opening or reason to break out for a little reward seems like a victory for the Indy food scene. Lynch, who lives just a couple of blocks from the creamery, has operated similar ice cream shops in northern Indiana. And while he had mulled over plans for an Indy location for years, it was only time before his dream of giving back to his neighborhood, as well as offering employment opportunities for local youth, took flight. 111 E. 16th St., 317-426-2641