AUBURN — Sabattus-based ice cream seller Fielder’s Choice is opening its first dine-in, year-round ice cream shop in the former Pizza Hut building on Minot Avenue in Auburn.

This will be the fourth location for family-owned Fielder’s Choice, which also has shops in Sabattus, Manchester and Old Orchard Beach.

“We’ve been looking at Auburn just because in our Sabattus shop so many people told us they’re traveling from Lewiston-Auburn. They’ve been saying for years, ‘Can you please open one so we don’t have to travel from Mechanic Falls or Minot or Poland?'” said Mike Jillson, a former state trooper who owns Fielder’s Choice with his wife, Sue. “We’ve been looking for quite a while in Auburn, just couldn’t find anything that fit until this.”

Jillson said they’d hoped to open a shop in Auburn two years ago, but they happened to find a spot in Old Orchard Beach first and ended up focusing their energy there.

Last November, Pizza Hut suddenly closed its 680 Minot Ave. location. The Jillsons eyed the 2,200-square-foot building, with its dining room, drive-thru and 42 parking spaces, but it was initially too expensive.

“It was kind of out of our price range,” Jillson said. “When they dropped it down to . . .  $475,000, I thought maybe they really wanted to move it, so we made them an offer for $350,000. And they took it.”

The Jillsons hope to open their newest shop the third week of August.

The Auburn shop will feature a drive-thru, like all Fielder’s Choice locations, but it will be the first with indoor seating. It will also be the first to try operating year-round.

“We’ll stay open all winter for people who absolutely have to have it,” Jillson said. “We’re going to try it and see what happens. Everybody has told us, ‘We’ll come all winter long.’ If not, we’ll just run it seasonal.” 

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