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Tiger Najjar outside the new Bruster’s Real Ice Cream he opened with cousin and friend Ramez Assad.

NORTH OLMSTED

Tiger Najjar and Ramez Assad have been friends since their teens. The pair, who are distant cousins, also share a love of ice cream. They now are co-owners of the new Bruster’s Real Ice Cream shop on Lorain Road.

The store opened June 25. On warm summer nights, especially weekends, the patio outside the shop is packed with customers.

Naijar, 42, is a North Olmsted native and resident entrepreneur.

“We just wanted to go into business together,” Najjar said of he and his business partner.

Assad, 44, is a Westlake native and has been a dentist in private practice in Elyria since 2007. The irony of a dentist owning an ice cream franchise is not lost on Assad.

“It’s become a running joke with my staff and my patients,” he said.

Najjar manages the store and oversees a staff of about 30 full-time and part-time employees.

The friends spent at least a few months looking into different enterprises or franchises.

“We felt this would be a great one,” Najjar said regarding Bruster’s.

They traveled to the nearest location in Columbus. They liked what they saw… and tasted.

“I don’t just say this because, you know, I own the store here,” Najjar said. “When we tried it, it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had and I love ice cream.”

Bruster’s makes its product fresh daily and features over 150 flavors. The store has two ice cream machines whizzing away, creating about 30 5-gallon buckets of ice cream every day.

Najjar rotates flavors, changing up a good bit of the menu every day. The shop offers at least 24 flavors daily, with most popular flavors being New York cheesecake and chocolate peanut butter buckeye: butter fudge ice cream with peanut butter and mini peanut butter cups.

Rachael Gibbons, 31, a flight attendant, is one of several ice cream makers. She previously worked at a Bruster’s in her native South Carolina.

“But I always loved working at Bruster’s,” Gibbons said, adding she enjoys studying the recipes, gathering the ingredients and mixing them all together. The simpler flavors take maybe an hour or two, while more complex ice creams can take seven or eight hours of mixing ingredients and churning.

Besides traditional ice cream, Bruster’s offerings include frozen yogurt, sherbet and non dairy items.

The two partners completely renovated their roughly 3,000-square-foot building, formerly a Firehouse Subs. COVID-19 slowed plans for the ice cream store as some ingredients proved hard to find during the epidemic. Plans were to open the shop in May.

This store includes both inside seating and an outside patio with umbrella-covered tables.

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream is based in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, and has roughly 200 franchises in 22 states and overseas.

Najjar graduated from North Olmsted high school in 1996. He has his five children, all of whom graduated or will graduate from his alma mater. Najjar added he has no plans to leave his hometown.

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream is at 27045 Lorain Road.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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