In the midst of yet another heat wave, we decided to cool off for a bit with a refreshing interview with Pete Angevine, co-founder of Phrequency's favorite up and rising ice cream tricycle Little Baby's Ice Cream.
Phrequency: How did you get into this business?
Pete Angevine: Well, Martin, the third partner who's actually in the kitchen making more ice cream right now, we both started independently making ice cream at home for ourselves. When we realized that we were both doing this independently, I said "Hey, do you want to start an ice cream company?", and it kind of went from there! There's no great story (laughs), none of us have any background in food or in the kitchen or in anything culinary. All of us kind of had a history in the music and art world, and this just seemed like a cool, new, interesting platform to exercise our creativity and imagination, and make people happy.
Phrequency: Nice! How did you start making ice cream?
Pete: I really like ice cream. I went about two and a half years or so without missing a day of eating it and then for my birthday my girlfriend's mom got me one of those Cuisine Art at home mixer things. I started making it by myself and then I started to get pretty good. Then I began experimenting with more and more flavors and soon enough of my friends said "hey, you should start an ice cream company" and eventually I conceded and did that. It's going a lot better then I thought it would!
Phrequency:That's great, we've been hearing about you guys all over the place.
Pete: Cool! The internet is an awesome tool.
Phrequency: Do you use the internet a lot to get yourself out there? We know Twitter is a big help with marketing.
Pete: I have not spent a dollar on marketing. We basically have a content-less flash page, we have a Facebook and Twitter and we have a Tumblr that I don't know if anybody updates. So yeah! We just try to put ourselves in as many situations as possible with a wide and diverse population of people. We're in places like neighborhood festivals, art festivals, concerts, hair salons, block parties, roller derbies, anything! It's really fun to meet all sorts of new people and it's also really exciting that this can be accessible to all sorts of different people. We were at a Punk Picnic event and then the same day we had a seven year old's birthday party.
Phrequency: WHAT! That's so cool.
Pete: Oh yeah, ice cream is the great unifier.
Phrequency: What's the hardest part about having a tricycle?
Pete: Well because we really just set this up as kind of an experiment to see how it went, we have a very tiny capacity for production and for storage, so anything at this point requires a ridiculous amount of time and effort and it's wildly inefficient. So really anything that we do is insanely difficult right now. It just requires a lot of free labor, helpful friends, and no sleep. I haven't slept since... April. We're working right now on some big expansion plans for next year that will be A.) a lot bigger and broader and B.) a lot easier for us.
Phrequency: Interesting, are those secret plans or are you able to share them with us?
Pete: Well we're working on having a store front in Fishtown, maybe another one or two tricycles and a more robust retail operation and wholesale. Right now we sell pints at one store called Green Aisle grocery on Passyunk avenue. Oh! Add that in there! But next year we're hoping to expand that and have it in selected and targeted stores in each neighborhood. Then maybe we're trying to look into the feasibility of doing a subscription based delivery service, which would be fun. Plus we want to sell treats other then scooped ice cream, such as ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, various kinds of weird floats with different kinds of real sugar sodas.
Phrequency: So those would all be flavors that you create as well?
Pete: Mmh hmm, exactly. We're also planning on doing more custom flavors. So this coming Sunday, friends of ours are opening a thing called Pizza Brain. Tomorrow they are trying to be inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records, which I'm sure is going to happen [and it did!!] for having the largest private collection of pizza related items. It's going to be really fun. For that event, a judge will be there evaluating the collection and we're going to have pizza ice cream, Hawaiian pizza ice cream, anchovie ice cream and guiness beer ice cream, just for the day. In the future we'll be able to do more things like that. Right now, that requires a lot for us to do. Like obviously this is worth it, because it's going to be such a special day but right now we don't have the capacity for us to do that all the time but it's going to be really cool!
Phrequency: How do you test out your flavors to make sure that they're going to be well received by the public?
Pete: Well there's enough of us between the three of us and our immediate circle of girlfriends and other friends. We sort of have a focus group, enough people try it before we put it out.
Phrequency: So the pizza was a success?
Pete: The pizza was legitimately really good! I really want to consider keeping that on our perminant rotation. The way we have it right now we can have six flavors at one time on the tricycle but we have a roster of about 14 or so flavors, so it's different everytime. But I would like to add pizza ice cream to that list because it's very disorienting and delicious.
Phrequency: What's your prep-time like?
Pete: It sort of takes a long time. It will be a lot better once we have a larger machine, right now we have the smallest available commercial machinery, so to make enough ice cream for an event like this, it takes a lot of time. In the future though, we'll have a lot larger of a machine, it's called a Batch Freezer, and then we'll be able to make a far greater quantity in the same amount of time. Martin works a day job and then literally gets home and starts making ice cream until like 1 AM, six days a week. It's a lot right now, what we are doing is crazy.
Phrequency: How do you deal with the weather?
Pete: Last night we had to cancel because it would not be good if we got stuck in a thunderstorm with the trike. Between the electricity and the stability of the trike it would just be too difficult. The heat is a different story, last week during that heat wave we closed just because it was way too hot. Those conditions are too much, for anybody really. Especially when you're dealing with ice cream, there's just too much potential for it to melt in that kind of situation.
Phrequency: How about the winter?
Pete: Well we have yet to experience the winter because we just opened this Spring, but I imagine we're going to be pretty quiet this Winter because we have our big plans of expanding in the works. Most people think ice cream is a year round thing, but I consider it to be seasonal. We'll have to see where we're at in our expansion plans next winter.
Phrequency: Any words of advice for people who plan on opening up any type of food stand?
Pete: (laughs) If I can do it, you can! We had no real culinary or business experience before starting up Little Baby's and it really just turned out to be better then any of us expected. Don't take it lightly though, there's a lot of hard work that goes into it and there's a whole lot of time that you need to put in to it. If you don't pick something that you love, it's not going to turn out great, so make sure it's something that you have a real devotion to.
Phrequency: We're so glad that you're around to keep homemade ice cream on the scene because so many shops are closing down and it seems like frozen yogurt is taking over Philly.
Pete: I know! That stuff is not the real thing, (holds up hands) these hands make real, homemade ice cream!
Thanks for such a fun interview Pete!
After the interview we were lucky enough to be treated to a ridiculously delightful bowl of Coffee Toffee and Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla ice cream. Please do yourselves a favor, follow them on Twitter, and find them at their next stop! See you at our next edition of Truck Stop.