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It Gets Sweeter Through The Years

Graley's Creamery and Confections helps patrons explore their palate while traveling back in time

It’s almost as if you’ve stepped off the train at the old depot in downtown Papillion and crossed the brick-lined street into the 1890s. The creaky floor, the comforting aromas, the cozy feel – you’ve arrived at Graley’s Creamery and Confections. A charming, old-time piano sits in the corner while antique tables and comfortable booths beckon you to sit while you browse the menu.

Graley’s Creamery and Confections has become a mainstay in downtown Papillion and a destination for a special date. “Graley’s is where friends and family gather and memories are made,” said Bryon Compton, referred to as Mr. C, who opened the ice cream shop with his wife, Joanna, in 2018.

The confectionary sits on the southeast corner of East Second and Washington streets, in one of Papillion’s most historic buildings.  It originally housed HA Sander General Store and, quite likely, was one of the first stops passengers would make after leaving the train depot just to the north. There, one would find sundries and mercantile for the locals and train travelers alike. Later the location became home to Abel’s Bar. Today, that bar has been restored and turned into a haven for ice cream buckets, the wide wooden planks on the floor remain, and the aromas are a blend of warm waffles and maple syrup or even of luscious chocolate brownies.

“Whatever happens to be on the menu that day, that’s what smells so good,” Mr. C said. “It’s the smell of love.”

While the menu boasts a variety of coffees, teas, cakes, soups, and pies, the star of the show is the ice cream. And not just cones. They also serve sundaes, banana splits, and milkshakes in every flavor imaginable such as Pistachio Crunch, Lavender Honey, Key Lime Pie, Cherry Red, and Honeycomb.

With only a couple exceptions, like Oreo Cookies and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, everything is made from scratch in the store. “All of the candy and toppings, all soups and pies, and of course the ice cream. Everything is all-natural. We don’t use any artificial food colorings, and we only use real cane sugar. We try to buy local as much as possible,” Mr. C said.

According to Mr. C, many recipes are old Victorian recipes, while others are family recipes handed down through generations or creations of his own. His recipe box has more than 100 family recipes, with plans to develop hundreds more.

“Graley’s is a family business, and the name of our shop came from the next generation,” Mr. C said. Bryon and Joanna are the parents of Greg and Haley, “and when you combine their names you get Graley’s,” Mr. C said proudly.

Creating an inviting, family-friendly atmosphere at Graley’s is important to the Comptons.

“We want our guests to leave their worries on the tree outside and come in and relax. We want our guests to make special memories here, whether that’s an afternoon ice cream with Dad or a wedding proposal – and we’ve had five proposals here so far,” Mr. C said.

Graley’s also serves as an educational opportunity for youngsters in the Papillion-La Vista School District. As part of their history curriculum, the third, fourth, and fifth graders are invited to tour Portal School and the Sautter Farmhouse each spring. Recently, that tour has grown to include a stop at Graley’s where the history lessons continue.

“We’re very proud to partner with the schools,” Mr. C said.

Graley’s Creamery and Confections is much more than an ice cream store to Bryon and Joanna Compton. “This is our legacy. This is about family. Papillion is family. Papillion is home to Graley’s. We are here to stay.”

“Graley's is where friends and family gather and memories are made."

  • HA Sander General Store 1912

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