16-year-old Ferndale resident to own, run Main Street ice cream shop

Jonas Bramwell cancer-free after health scare last year

Jonas Bramwell, a 16-year-old Ferndale resident, will run Cat Shack, an ice cream store on the city’s Main Street. (Bramwell family contributed)
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Sixteen-year-old Jonas Bramwell was looking for an after-school gig, but quickly found that Ferndale’s mom-and-pop stores don’t have much budget space for new employees. So he bought a job.

The high school junior took out a loan from his parents to afford the rent, equipment and stock necessary to own and run Cat Shack, an ice cream store that replaces BeAnn’s Jams on Main Street in Ferndale. The business is in his mother’s name, but she says he will “run the show” as he pays his parents back.

Bramwell plans to operate the shop after his regular school days. He’s open for business, serving mostly Dreyer’s ice cream, though he eventually wants to buy from a local supplier. One thing’s for sure: Bramwell isn’t looking for a boss.

“I don’t ever want to work for anybody,” Bramwell told the Times-Standard on Monday about his entrepreneurial interests.

He said he’s excited to be part of the Ferndale business scene. But why an ice cream shop?

“I knew I wanted to do something that made whatever community I was living in happy,” he said. “Ice cream tends to make people happy.”

Jonas Bramwell has already begun serving ice cream at his store when he’s not in class as a high school junior. (Bramwell family contributed)

So far, Bramwell’s favorite part of the enterprise has been greeting and speaking to customers. His friends from high school have already paid the shop a visit.

The teen has been back at school after a 2019 diagnosis of lymphoma sent him to weeks of chemotherapy. Ferndale residents threw a fundraiser for his family’s medical bills and posted a GoFundMe page that drew over $3,600 in donations.

Fortunately, Bramwell is now cancer-free, and his mother says he has high spirits.

“He’s doing really well,” said Jessica Bramwell. “He’s always been a creative-minded kid, and he’s the kindest person you’ll ever meet.”

The new business has local support. Paul Beatie, who serves on the city’s chamber of commerce and owns Ferndale Music Company, said Bramwell’s ownership will be a positive step in bringing “youthful energy” to a town of older people.

“We definitely need more young families here so that it’s not just an awesome place to retire,” Beatie said. “We need more kids around to help the schools survive.”

Bramwell is excited about the challenge. One of his first goals is to add sundaes and milkshakes to the menu by summertime.

With plans for the shop to be open 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays (except Wednesday) and noon to 8 p.m. on weekends, the full-time student is ready for a major commitment.

It’s an unlikely venture for a person his age. Then again, Bramwell, who was his high school’s mascot, is used to standing out from the crowd. His own favorite ice cream flavors: Mint chip and bubble gum.

“I know,” he said, “I’ve got very different tastes.”

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504. 

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