MIDDLEFIELD — The Caboose on Baileyville Road is more than a bit unusual when it comes to a place to stop for ice cream.
Customers may be familiar with its extensive list of flavors but may not be aware of its history.
Back in the early 2000s, Robert Perrotti, owner of Perrotti’s Country Barn, saw the caboose was for sale in East Hampton and thought it was special. At that time, it was being used as a seafood stand.
He had an idea to use the rail car to complement the Country Barn, a popular shopping spot on Baileyville Road.
The shop, which opened in 1999, carries gifts such as jewelry, handbags and clothing. Members of the Perrotti family help to run the shop.
“I wanted to have a place for the guys to hang out while the ladies shopped,” Perrotti said. “I contemplated over a food place, and when I found the caboose in East Hampton, I could envision that on my property.”
In 2005, The Caboose was brought to the Country Barn site and Perrotti said he hasn’t looked back.
When he brought the caboose to Middlefield, it a lot of work to get it operational again.
“I threw out most of the equipment except for the refrigerator,” Perrotti said.
A local woodworking company built the signs and railroad track design. An electrical panel was covered up and now resembles a ticket window. A deck built in front of the stand looks like a train platform.
After doing some market research, Perrotti decided an ice cream stand was his best bet.
“The ice cream business was something my kids could help me with,” he said. “My three daughters and my wife were the ones who ran the gift shop. And my two boys and I would work in the back behind the scenes. We were lifting the boxes and helping out with everything else.”
When the ice cream stand opened, Perrotti knew that his sons would be the ones helping out and so they did for many years.
His daughter Elizabeth Perrotti was in middle school at the time, but these days she has become an essential member of the team, helping her father run the ice cream business.
The stand features 32 Praline’s ice cream flavors, made in Wallingford.
“Both businesses feed off of each other,” Elizabeth Perrotti said. “Now we get new customers who come to The Caboose and are intrigued to learn more about our gift shop.”
The Caboose, 288 Baileyville Road, Middlefield, is open until mid-October on Monday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; closed Tuesday; and Wednesday to Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. For more information, call 860-349-0082.