Melissa Kenny at Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop

Meet Melissa Kenny at Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop

While thinking back to where her life was heading a decade ago, Melissa (Rauso) Kenny, owner of Sweet Melissa’s ice cream shop, says she never imagined operating an ice cream parlor or living in New York’s Southern Tier as part of her life plan.  

“I was always more of a chocolate chip cookie kind of gal,” Melissa jokes before explaining she moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2006 to pursue a career in music video production. She made some progress in that arena by working with many musicians, but fate had other plans.

While living in LA, Melissa met Matt Kenny, a Central NY native whose family was in the ice cream making business for the past 40 years in Syracuse. The pair fell in love and decided to spend their lives together.  That’s when Matt’s dad clued them in on a life-changing business opportunity

Sweet Melissa’s now offers prepackaged ice cream flights, featuring some of the parlor’s best Fall flavors.

“He told Matt that Ithaca needed a soft serve ice cream shop. I immediately said to him, “Let’s do it!” Ice cream is universally loved and is such a fantastic way to put a smile on someone’s face, and I will forever love that about it,” says Melissa.  

In January of 2009, Matt and Melissa left Los Angeles and moved in with Matt’s parents’ home in Syracuse where they started crafting a plan for their new business. By May of that year, the couple opened Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop in Shortstop Deli. Then, less than a decade later, in February 2018, the Kenny’s opened a second downtown location in Press Bay Alley, a hip shopping spot filled with locally owned, specialty micro-stores. 

“I love this area of downtown. I love the walkability and that I can support other small businesses and that they support my business,” says Melissa.

Sweet Melissa’s serves some of the tastiest homemade hard and soft serve ice creams (there’s a fantastic selection of original flavors) and gourmet baked goods in the region. People come from miles around to enjoy the parlor’s sweet and creamy sundaes, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and novelty items such as ice cream pies, dog treats (humans can eat them, too), and bonbons. For those who are lactose intolerant or for those who simply who don’t eat dairy, there are options for you! Melissa make’s a selection of non-dairy ice cream using organic coconut milk and organic sugar. 

“I’ve completely fallen in love with the process of creating quality ice cream and other treats for the community. We work very hard at making this business as great as possible and try to do what we can to cater to our customers’ needs. I am so excited for the years to come and to see how Sweet Melissa’s evolves in the future,” says Melissa.

When Melissa isn’t busy preparing ice cream or operating her shop, she can be found spending time with her family and/or baking.

For more information about Melissa Kenny and Sweet Melissa’s, stop by the parlor at 118 W. Green Street, next door to Amuse: Modern Cottage Industry, visit, or check out its Facebook page at

The Faces of Downtown Ithaca

Some say the best referrals come from trusted family and friends. In Downtown Ithaca, quality recommendations often come from speaking directly to our hospitable downtown business owners and managers. Afterall, who knows their business best than the business owner themselves.

Welcome to Faces of Downtown Ithaca where we’ll give you an insider’s look at downtown’s shops, let you meet your shopkeepers, and restaurateurs who provide this area with some of the finest shopping, dining, and attractions that the Finger Lakes Region has to offer.

Not only do these folks work here, but they also dine, shop, and play here. Many of them also live here, too! This is their Downtown Ithaca and now, they are sharing some of their histories with you.