Grindstone General Store

Grindstone General Store and Rybak’s Ice Cream Are Sweet Cool Comfort

Grindstone General Store Grindstone City Michigan

Grindstone General Store – Oldest Business in Michigan’s Thumb

It isn’t often that two shops offering the same fare open in a small town simultaneously. But that is what is happening with Grindstone City ice cream. The Grindstone General Store is one of the oldest proprietorships in the Thumb. It’s well known for its huge ice cream cones served up for kids of all ages. The store also offers items produced by local artists.  

A less known is a relative newcomer; Rybak’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop just down the street, operating in a historic building built by Aaron Peer in 1881. Rybak’s offers high-end ice cream, homemade candy, and assorted gifts from local artists. The shop once headquartered the Grindstone operations, which the town is famous. The building has been beautifully restored.

Rybak's Ice Cream Grindstone City

Rybak’s – Once Grindstone City Quarry Headquarters

A Great Lakes shipper, Captain Aaron Peer, sought shelter in the area’s natural harbor in 1834. As his crew explored the dense forest and rocky beach for shelter and firewood, the men came across huge flat rocks lying about the shore and forests.

Rybec Candy Counter

Grindstones – The Areas First Industry

Taking samples south to Detroit, they found the stone (part of the Marshall Sandstone Formation) to be impeccably suited for paving streets, replacing Ohio flagstone as the preferred medium. Within a couple of years, Captain Peer and his crew took advantage of the stone to sharpen their tools and shape them into grindstones shortly thereafter. A small port grew here as the industry took hold in the forest.

Rybecs Ice Cream

In 1836,  Peer purchased 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone quarrying and manufacturing operation. The outcropping of Marshall Sandstone that Peer discovered was an abrasive stone with a very fine grit unique to Grindstone City and perfect for grindstones, scythe stones, and hones. Worldwide demand soon earned the town the nickname of Grindstone Capital of the World.

Rybecks Ice Cream Grindstone City

The town became a company-built town largely, with homes, a grist mill, wharves, and a booming industry with two quarries. A salt mining operation produced 125 barrels of salt each day during the 1870s, and the first railroad was built into Grindstone City.

Rybec's Front Porch
Rybec’s Front Porch

So next time you get a taste for ice cream or are sick of Cheeseburgers in Caseville, make an effort to sample some Grindstone City ice cream. The choices are awesome.

  • Pinnebog General Store – The ruins of Champagne’s Pinnebog general store can still be seen across from Heck’s Bar. Pinnebog has just about faded away.
  • Kilmanagh General Store – The owner of the 1870’s store has begun a painstaking restoration process that’s now in its second year. You can see the progress at the Kilmanagh Store Facebook Page.
  • Bach General Store – Small villages dot the countryside of Michigan. This shot was taken at Bach, Michigan. The Bach General Store, long since closed. Once the center of the community, these shops were common in the days before Walmart and Dollar General. They served as local focal points one could walk to or arrive on horseback or wagon.
  • The Amazing Fish Market in Bay Port – The Bay Port Fish Company is a commercial fishery on Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay, established in 1895
  • Dad Humor and Dish Rags – I was wondering around a gift shop and came across some wonderfully funny quotes on Dish Rags.

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Michael Hardy

Mike Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. It started in 2009 as a fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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3 thoughts on “Grindstone General Store and Rybak’s Ice Cream Are Sweet Cool Comfort

  1. Ice cream WARS is right. The owner of Rybak’s has a major chip on his shoulder when it comes to the fact that he has competition in town just a block away.

    Our family first cruised to Rybak’s to check out their selection of ice cream, which was about a dozen plus flavors of Gurnsey Ice Cream.

    We then drove over to the General Store and looked at their selection, which included commercially available flavors plus some made on site.

    We ended up buying two cones from the General Store and heading back to Rybak’s to buy two more, which we ate at picnic tables next to Rybak’s amazing restored 1800’s building.

    I finished my cone and went to the porch to throw the plastic cone holder in the garbage can there when a man on the porch said, “I didn’t spend a hundred thousand on this building to serve the competition.”

    At first I wasn’t sure he was talking to me, but he went on with some more muttering about “the competition”.

    I explained that we had bought ice cream from both places, and ended up at his place, but that didn’t seem to matter.

    The other establishment was busy, while his was dead, except for us. He had one girl behind the counter, and the competition had at least 4 people working on orders.

    The Rybak’s guy was a newcomer, serves smaller cones, makes no ice cream of his own, yet fancies himself the “Boss of Ice Cream” in Grindstone City?

    Good luck with that, pal.

  2. Rybak’s is best hands down. Staff is friendly unlike the owner of general store. Also ice cream is delicious and just as big, it looks smaller because they put it in a decent cone not a mini cone that makes the top look big, but then falls off like the general store does.

What do you think?