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"All I know is, Stephanie better not beat me to it."

That was pastry chef and gelato impresario Jessie Oloroso (above) speaking yesterday in her still bare-as-bones shop, Black Dog Gelato, 859 N. Damen, in reference to her former Scylla boss, Stephanie Izard, whose been thisclose to opening her Girl and the Goat for a zillion weeks.

Olorose need not worry. Though Izard has been in the kitchen and is days away from her opening, Oloroso will indeed beat her to it with a Friday opening.

We're excited at the prospect of being able to buy gelato pies, we repeat, gelato pies -- first up, a meringue-topped, lemon gelato-filled number in a gingersnap crust. And we like these little buttons Oloroso will have up at her register (which are not unlike Izard's little goat buttons).

And while we're at it, make sure you check out next week's Food pages, as Oloroso has graciously shared a home version of her roasted red pepper gelato.

Hurray for buttons, and gelato, and summer.

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We still have our doubts that spring is just around the bend (officially, in 17 days but having lived here for 19 years, we know better). But this announcement, just arrived via press release, makes us feel a smidge better:

The Original Rainbow Cone, 9233 S. Western, opens "for the summer season" on Friday.

A bonus: The first customer Friday gets a free large cone every day for the rest of the month.

Bring your own ... chair?

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scooters_storefront.pngScooter's Frozen Custard is the type of business that any neighborhood, in any town, would love to have as part of their community. The Roscoe Village spot -- on Belmont between Ashland and Ravenswood -- draws neighborhood residents young and old, families, kids, dog owners and their pups. The tiny corner cafe creates the kind of scene that makes living in a congested, noisy city bearable. The owners are friendly and chat with customers, the employees -- who often have to deal with a line of customers at their walk-up window as well as a line going out the door -- are harried but always pleasant and offer service with a smile.

The owners believe that something like frozen custard, some with funny names such as "Chocolate Yum Yum" and "Coco Loco" can bring a little comfort and a smile to people even when folks are going through rough times.

Those frozen custards -- concretes, they call 'em -- are something else. They resemble soft-serve ice cream but the product is so much better than your typical ice cream, soft serve or regular. According to their Web site, "the process for making frozen custard is very labor intensive. The product is made fresh every day, from scratch, and that is part of reason it tastes so good. It is also the most dense of any ice cream variety on the market. Contrary to some urban myths, frozen custard is NOT extremely high in butterfat. In fact, Scooter's frozen custard is approximately 40 percent lower in butterfat that some of your favorite high end ice creams found at your local grocery store."

For the past six years, were you to visit Scooter's on a summer night (they're closed in winter) you'd find moms and dads, their little kids sitting on little chairs outside the Scooter's building, couples, single folks, older folks, and a few pups and their owners at the dog-friendly spot. The puppies would be drinking water out of the dishes Scooter's owners put outside for them, or they'd be eating custard from little cones from their owners, who would be sitting on some other chairs Scooter's had put out on the sidewalk up against the building or near the curb. There was even a garbage can that Scooter's put out there at their own expense, to keep the surrounding area clean. In all, a wonderful neighborhood spot and neighborly vibe in a city where such scenes are a little too uncommon.

But apparently that's not the sort of sight City Hall -- or the alderman's office -- wants as part of this city. That's because Scooter's has been ordered to take away the chairs, the water dishes and the garbage can. The city departments enforcing this order are Mayor Daley's office, Ald. Scott Waguespack's (32nd) office and the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Scooter's owners really don't have the money or resources to fight City Hall, so the chairs et al are gone, and a little bit of people trying to be good neighbors and cultivate a neighborly environment has been quashed.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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