As expected, last night's queue ran way down the sidewalk as customers lined up along 12th Avenue for free preview scoops of ice cream.
The new Jeni's store, which is in the new 12 South Flats apartment-and-retail development, is bright and pleasant. It appears slightly smaller than Jeni's other company-owned store, the one on Eastland Avenue in East Nashville — which Jeni's fans will probably continue to call "the mothership." But the selection of ice creams in 12South is definitely comprehensive, and it carries all the sundae accoutrements one might hope for, including Jeni's Gravels (crunchy toppings in varieties like Salty Graham or Chocolate Blackout).
The new Jeni's is next-door to Miranda Whitcomb Pontes' upcoming restaurant Josephine, so the block is evolving into a culinary hot spot.
The folks at Jeni's are careful about picking their neighborhoods. The East Nashville location was the company's first outside Ohio, and the chain has grown steadily but thoughtfully. The 12South store opened simultaneously today with Jeni's first location in Chicago, at 3404 N. Southport Ave. on the North Side not far from Wrigley Field and just blocks from the Music Box arthouse movie theater.
I chatted briefly with Jeni Britton Bauer at yesterday's Nashville preview, and while I didn't come up with tons of incisive questions for her, I did learn one bit of news: She's working on a followup to her cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which won a James Beard award and was pretty widely praised because the recipes actually seem to work well for home chefs. (That's not always the case, especially with ice cream recipes.)
The new cookbook will include ice cream recipes but will also broaden the focus to include other desserts that go with ice cream, including recipes for cakes and homemade versions of Jeni's Gravels. The title isn't firm yet, but the cookbook is expected to be released sometime in summer 2014.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
2312 12th Ave. S.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily