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[Shannon Jensen/DP file photo] Rittenhouse Square ice cream parlor Scoop deVille could open in Houston Hall as early as April.

Get your tastes buds ready -- Scoop deVille, a well-known gourmet ice cream and candy shop based in Center City, has finalized plans to open in Houston Hall.

Construction will begin this week in the basement-level space once occupied by STA Travel, and students will be able to indulge their sweet tooth on April 1 if everything goes according to schedule.

Scoop deVille has something even sweeter in store, however -- they will also sell an array of chocolates, cookies, pastries and other candies according to owner Suzan Shore.

Scoop deVille also owns Maron Chocolates, which makes around 75 to 80 chocolate products.

"We're going to bring some deliciously sweet and fun things to Houston Market," Shore said, adding that they want to bring "healthy alternatives" as well.

While Shore has not yet decided on specific items for the menu, the possibilities range from fondue, to sorbet, waffles and chocolate body paint.

First, however, Shore wants to see what the students want and fine-tune the menu from there. After all, a group of Penn students led the administration to contact Scoop deVille in the first place.

"The fact that they are coming here is based on reactions of the students," said Director of Perelman Quadrangle Facilities Tom Hauber, who is in charge of the retail space for Perelman Quadrangle, include that located within Houston Hall.

Hauber was present at a University Life meeting last December when Vice Provost Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum told students that there was an opportunity to fill the space STA Travel had abandoned.

She opened the discussion to about 25 students from a number of different organizations and coalitions on campus in order to get a sense of what kind of retail venue students were interested in.

"Students mentioned Scoop deVille very specifically," Hauber said.

"About three to five ideas were generated during the meeting -- anything from ice cream to dry cleaners or a shoe repair [venue] -- but the ice cream concept was the most favorable one," VPUL Director of Communication Leah Smith said.

After the meeting, McCoullum asked [Hauber] to develop the idea," she added.

Shortly thereafter, Hauber contacted Shore and discovered that she had been interested in the Houston Hall space since catering an event for the Academy Awards last spring. Indeed, Shore had expressed interest in moving to Penn for years.

Hauber brought Shore and others to look at the space in Houston Hall last December, shortly after the University Life meeting. Soon after, both parties came to terms with a multi-year lease and were working out the details until mid-January, according to Hauber.

Shore said she is looking forward to opening the store and is anticipating a good response.

Depending on the store's success, Shore hinted that night deliveries on campus for orders of $10 or more are a possibility for the future. The store currently makes deliveries in Center City.

On how long the store will stay, "It depends on the students. If we are doing well, we'll stay forever. We just need to get in there and see how it works," Shore said.

While ice cream is a favorite among Penn students, Shore is concerned that not as many students visit the store during summer, the busiest season.

However, the store already has a loyal Penn clientele. Over the years devoted customers have made frequent visits to the Center City store. Alumni also keep in touch with Shore and return when they are in town.

Still, some current undergraduates were unfamiliar with the venue or still feel Penn should explore other retail options.

"Ice cream is good, but it would be nice to see some more name brand food come on campus for those on the meal plan," Engineering freshman Adam Novick said.

Other students were excited to welcome Scoop to campus.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing Scoop deVille at Houston Hall. There is definitely a shortage of good dessert/ice cream places on campus and in the spring ice cream really hits the spot," College sophomore Andy Zwecker said.

"Houston Hall is a great location for a franchise like Scoop," he added.

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