You know Cold Stone Creamery, where counter people scoop ice cream from tubs in a freezer case, slap it on a cold stone, mix in various ingredients, and serve it.
Cherry Hill's Kyle Billig intends to open a shop called Sweet Charlie's at 711 Walnut St. across from Washington Square in early May that starts the process one step back:
He will actually make the ice cream from scratch.
Billig is not some food scientist. He's 19 and a freshman majoring in business entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
He was scrolling his Facebook news feed last year when he saw a video of a Thai street vendor (below) making ice cream from scratch on a cold plate in less than two minutes. The vendor added milk and other ingredients and smoothed it out on a large pan before using a scraper to fashion the soft ice cream into rolls.
"I had to try this for myself," he said. He found a scrap of granite (which is what Cold Stone uses), which he froze with dry ice. When he attempted to pour milk and the other ingredients on it, he realized he needed it to be colder to actually create ice cream. Like 20 degrees below zero colder.
With the help of his older brother Jacob, Kyle Billig ended up buying a machine overseas, which he said he had to modify for use in the United States. In the meantime, a shop called 10 Below opened in New York last summer to long lines, followed by shops in L.A.
Billig intends to have three or four of the "pans" creating ice cream and frozen yogurt at once to speed the lines. There will be no freezer in the shop.
The base itself is primarily of milk, buttermilk and sugar, and is free of stabilizers, preservatives, and emulsifiers. It also has no flavor. Cookies, fresh fruit, tea, and candies make up the flavor combinations. They plan to use La Colombe coffee in the coffee flavor.
What Billig calls "a great-size" serving will cost about $6.
Since the shop will open just after his semester, he intends to transfer to a Philadelphia-area business school for next year.
Sweet Charlie's, incidentally, is named after the Billig family's Woodle. (Right. Mixed ice cream ... mixed-breed dog. A Woodle is a soft-coated Wheaten terrier crossed with a poodle.)