Handel’s scoop shop opens in Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Handel's Ice Cream is now open in Carmel Valley.

Travis Campbell and Marcus Weenig, the local owners of the new Handel’s Ice Cream shop, are excited to have a new neighborhood to treat.

Since opening on Feb. 11 in Del Mar Highlands Town Center , they have been serving up smiles and generously loaded ice cream cones, getting used to all of the local school schedules and when they might expect to see an after-school sugar rush.

Handel’s is a full-service ice cream shop offering sundaes and cones, four scoop samplers and floats, milkshakes and malts, birthday cakes and ice cream pies, pints and quarts to go and Handel’s pops—a big scoop of ice cream coated in rich gourmet chocolate.

“Making people happy is a fun business to be in,” said Campbell.

Marcus Weenig, Tammi Weenig, Tarah Campbell and Travis Campbell at their Carlsbad location.
Marcus Weenig, Tammi Weenig, Tarah Campbell and Travis Campbell at their Carlsbad location.

The Handel’s brand started in 1945 in Ohio when Alice Handel served up her homemade ice cream out of her husband’s gas station, using her old-fashioned recipes and fresh fruit from her backyard.

The company has grown to 51 locations in 10 states—the majority of shops located in Ohio. There are nine locations so far in California and four are Campbell’s and Weenig’s.

A few years ago the two best friends and ice cream lovers were looking to get out of their corporate jobs and take on a more entrepreneurial enterprise together. Their big idea came after visiting the Handel’s location in Encinitas.

“We thought ‘This is the greatest ice cream we’ve ever had’,” Campbell said.

They connected with the company about franchising and started with two shops in Orange County in 2018 and then opened a store in Carlsbad last April. The partners had their eye on Carmel Valley’s Del Mar Highlands Town Center and worked for about two years to get the deal done.

“We wanted to be in Del Mar Highlands Town Center, this is the perfect place,” said Campbell of the community filled with schools and families and their spot within the newly renovated shopping center. Handel’s is part of the center’s expansion, walk up windows tucked into an alcove next to the new Jimbo’s and fronting a large plaza centered around “Drifter,” the 16-foot whale and fountain that was installed last year.

The scoop shop is also close to the stairway leading up to the Sky Deck, the restaurant collective set to open in the summer.

The Carmel Valley shop, like almost all Handel’s in the country, has walk-up windows to serve customers. Encinitas was actually the first walk-in shop in the country when it opened in 2016—Campbell’s and Weenig’s Orange County locations are also walk-ins while the Carlsbad and Carmel Valley location use the walk-up model. On busy days there can be lines but Campbell said they are able to move lines quickly because the windows are able to serve so many groups at once.

Theirs is a true family business as their wives, Campbell’s three sons and Weenig’s five children are all happy to lend a hand to make ice cream batches, scoop or taste-test.

What makes Handel’s stand out is the quality of the ice cream: “You can just taste the difference,” Campbell said of the fresh and creamy ice cream that is made right in the store. Unique for an ice cream shop, they make all ice cream batches on site using a carefully perfected process.

In addition to the quality, Campbell said they never skimp on scoops.

“We’re more generous than any other scoop shop and for a very affordable price so families can come and feel like they’re getting a good deal,” Campbell said.

Handel’s has 175 rotating flavors and every day there are about 50 selections on the menu like strawberry, pistachio, vanilla caramel brownie, black raspberry chunk and Spouse Like a House, a malted vanilla ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter ripple and chocolate-covered pretzels.

A cone in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center plaza.

There are decadent creations such as the Graham Central Station with graham cracker ripple and chocolate- covered crunchies and the Heavenly Hash is chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered peanuts, chocolate chips and marshmallow ripple as well as about 12 classic flavors that are “sacred” and will always be on the menu.

“We go through a lot of classic mint chocolate chip,” said Campbell, particularly on warm summer days.

Banana cream pie was Campbell’s first love at Handel’s but he said his favorite flavor is probably chocolate peanut butter brownie. Weenig’s answer is usually: “Whatever I try next.”

For Handel’s, their place in the community is just as important as the quality of its ice cream. Campbell said they are looking forward to becoming fully entrenched in the Carmel Valley community—supporting local organizations and school fundraisers, serving up scoops at local sporting events, employing local teenagers in the shop and catering events, parties and celebrations of special days.

Handel’s is located at 12843 El Camino Real, suite 108 and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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