The mystery of that unopened 'Sweet Jesus' store at Mall of America

The ice cream shop has been "Coming Soon" for years. Is there hope for it?
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Unopened Sweet Jesus store at Mall of America

In late 2017, the Mall of America (MOA) announced it would be getting a quirky ice cream shop called "Sweet Jesus."

Nearly two years later, the space on the mall's third level where it was supposed to open its doors is still unoccupied — and still bearing signs that promise the store is "Coming Soon."

So, is it still coming soon, or is that just an empty promise?

The answer, it turns out, is a bit murky — but there is a glimmer of hope if you were really looking forward to this opening. 

Background

Here's what we do know: Sweet Jesus is a Canadian chain specializing in outrageous soft-serve cones with names like "Banging Brownie," "Rocky Road Rage," and "Krusty the Cone."

Based in Toronto, it got its start just four years ago, initially in the back of a local Mexican restaurant. 

It has since grown to 16 locations. Its first U.S. outlet was supposed to be the one at Mall of America; instead, that distinction went to a location in Baltimore — still the sole Sweet Jesus in America.

About that name, though.

Inspired by an employee who would "declare 'sweet Jesus' all the time," it's raised more than a few eyebrows along the way, and has even led to a boycott by Canadian Christians who describe the name as "blasphemy."

Last year, they launched two online petitions pressuring the chain to change its name and its branding imagery, some of which included an upside-down cross. 

As of this writing, both of those petitions have garnered about 12,000 signatures each. 

High up on the homepage of its website, Sweet Jesus has the following statement:

"Our name was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of enjoyment, surprise or disbelief. Our aim is not to offer commentary on anyone's religion or belief systems. Our own organization is made up of amazing people that represent a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs."

One of the petitions calls that "nonsense," saying the choice of name was "clearly designed to provoke."

As fervent as this controversy is, though, it appears to have had little to do with the fate of the MOA store. 

'A few developments'

While an MOA employee told us over the phone that Sweet Jesus would not be opening, International Franchise Inc. — which owns the ice cream chain as well as a number of other frozen dessert brands —  has a much more optimistic outlook.

Company president Jeff Young told BringMeTheNews via email that there have been "a few developments" with the mall location.

"Currently, we are working with a new franchisee and once we sign a franchise agreement and the lease, we will be announcing the details," he said.

Though he didn't get any more specific than that, it would seem things simply didn't work out with the first franchisee. 

(Indeed, as we learned from the recent Tim Hortons debacle — which also involved a Canadian brand and heavily impacted Mall of America — franchising across national borders can apparently be pretty tricky.) 

Two attempts by BringMeTheNews to reach out to the mall's press relations office have gone unanswered, so we've yet to hear their side of the story. 

Nonetheless, it looks like we'll be getting that Sweet Jesus after all; the only unknown now is when.

In the meantime, mall-goers can eat sinfully at any of MOA's 37 sweets and snacks stores.

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