PCCS and C.F. Jones Group, a Lebanon-based contracting, consulting and construction firm, officially kicked off the project that was announced last summer. The business will sit on two lots on the west side of Bloomington Street, immediately north of Maytag Laundry and across the street from Robe-Ann Park.
The first goal of the business will be to provide skills to developmentally disabled PCCS clients. The shop will give them a place of employment as well as a training site for other foodservice jobs.
The organization also hopes to generate funds for itself in an era of decreased state and federal funding.
"Our primary purpose is to put our clients to work and prove that they can fit in quite well in every day life," said Mark Benassi of PCCS. "In the process, we aim to make a little money and become a self-sufficient operation."
"We're going to run it like a business," PCCS Executive Director Chuck Schroeder said.
Benassi, who will serve as manager of the new business, credited Schroeder with the concept, an idea he describes as "visionary."
"This is the first facility of its kind in the United States or Canada, that's pretty special," Benassi said.
The uniqueness of the project means its ramifications could extend far beyond Greencastle and Putnam County. Schroeder told the Greencastle Board of Zoning Appeals last July the ice cream/sandwich shop could become a pilot program for the state in providing gainful employment for developmentally disabled persons.
The presence of Dairy Castle in the city, as well as the recent opening of Green Apple Frogurt, had led some in the city to speculate PCCS might change its plans to another kind of business. Schroeder said, however, they will carry on as originally planned.
PCCS has already acquired most of the equipment from the short-lived Dairi-licious franchise on the city's south side.
C.F. Jones Project Manager Brian Jedwabny commended PCCS on its efforts and expressed his faith in the project.
"This is a great project," Jedwabny said. "It's going to be great for everybody in town, the whole community."
Construction is expected to last until August or September, with the opening to take place shortly thereafter.
The ice cream/sandwich shop will be approximately 4,000 square feet and will accommodate 75 guests. More than 8,000 vehicles pass by the property daily.