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A new ice cream shop opens in east Gainesville

The only ice cream shop in east Gainesville is officially open for business.

Totes Ice Cream opened at 1714 SE Hawthorne Road on Friday.

Leroy Williams, this year's Alachua County Public School’s Principal of the Year, said he was excited to hear about the opening of the ice cream shop. Williams began his career in Alachua County in 2004 at Lincoln Middle School and has served as the principal of Eastside High School since 2021.

“We all love ice cream, right?” Williams said. “We've never had an ice cream shop establishment on the east side of town.”

He said that if the community members ever want something sweet, they have to go to the west side of Gainesville or downtown.

This ice cream shop nearby will help bring resources to the students and families in this area.

“I think it will connect our kids,” he said, “and provide a better opportunity for them.”

Owner Steve Grimes, the 2016 Gainesville Iron Chef champion, also operated Korean Ramen, Crane Jacks, Wayward Fox and Swamp Boil, food spots across Gainesville.

For Grimes, the inspiration for Totes came in part from the building’s location, which formerly housed the restaurant Southern Charm. “I thought about something that would be easily accessible on Hawthorne (Road),” Grimes said.

“We see a lot of people coming and going to work or school, and I thought, why not just do ice cream?” he added.

Once Grimes solidified his idea of an ice cream shop, he said he came up with the name Totes.

“Sometimes things just click you know?” Grimes said. “I was just like totes, right? Totally just Totes Ice Cream.”

The shop held a soft opening last week and will hold its grand opening Wednesday.

Whether it is families gathering for a sweet treat, friends catching up over cones or strangers striking up conversations in line, Williams said he hopes the shop serves as a common ground where people can connect and share lasting memories.

Grimes said that he makes all ingredients and recipes in-house, allowing him to feel a special connection to certain people when making them. He wants to make each person happy with each recipe, he added.

“It’s me sharing a memory with people,” he said. “I really want this to be a local spot where everyone wants to come, chill and feel comfortable.”

Grimes said that businesses not wanting to open in the area are detrimental to the people on this side of town. He wants to offer up as much as he can and serve the people of east Gainesville to the best of his ability.

“I feel like it's going to make people on the east side feel like it's ‘grandma's cooking,’” he said. “And I don’t want to just draw people from this side of town: I want people from all over coming to taste real food.”

Totes Ice Cream will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Breakfast items will be sold from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – or until they sell out.

Katie is a reporter for WUFT News who can be be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing