Barring an eleventh-hour miracle, Sweet Moses
(6800 Detroit Ave., 216-651-2202) in Gordon Square will close its doors after 10 years. The ice cream shop's last day of business will be Sunday, October 24. Owner Jeff Moreau, who owns both the business and the building, had been in negotiations to transition the beloved business to a new operator, but those plans fell through at the last minute, he says.
“This was not my intention,” he explains. “Last week at this time I thought I was going to be signing a contract.”
Behind the scenes, Moreau had been working closely with a potential buyer of the business. When that loose end was tied up, he would be able to sell the building in which it resides. But after a months-long courtship and negotiation process, the buyer got cold feet and backed out.
Moreau, who splits his time between Cleveland and Florida, no longer is in the position to manage and maintain a 100-year-old building from afar. Nor is he able to restart the entire sales and negotiation process for the business again.
“What’s tough about this situation is there are people who would like to own an ice cream shop but they don’t have the capital to buy the building,” Moreau explains. “And there are people who would want to buy the building but they don’t necessarily want an ice cream shop. In the perfect world I would have found someone with the money to buy the building and maintain the business.”
Prior to unveiling his magical sweets shop in Gordon Square, Moreau scoured the landscape to find the equipment and furnishings that comprise Sweet Moses. Dating back to 1910 and the 1940s, the ornate soda fountain – comprised of a handsome backbar, dipping and soda station and marble-slab counter – features glowing stained glass and the original ice-chilled base cabinets.
Moreau spent untold hours sourcing, repairing and restoring the graceful wire-backed parlor chairs that furnish the two rooms.
“This concept is an old-fashioned soda fountain, so it doesn’t age out,” Moreau adds. “The concept is every bit as solid today as it was when I opened it 10 years ago. But in the end, it’s something I can no longer sustain personally.”
Short of an offer landing on his desk this week, Moreau will close after this weekend. He will then liquidate the contents of the shop, which is one of the saddest images to bear. Hopefully, the bulk of the furnishings will be purchased by someone eager to follow in Moreau's path, albeit elsewhere.
“Maybe there’s a person out there who always wanted to own a soda fountain, maybe to open one somewhere else,” he says. “Someone who sees the value. You will never be able to buy this again. It was a lot of work, but it was my passion.”