Icicles gets a warm welcome

ROLL WITH IT Icicles Ice Cream Roller Rebecca Reynolds works over a cold plate pan preparing an ice cream treat for waiting customers.

What, in one of the coldest weeks of the year, would compel people to stand in line waiting for ice cream? One of the hottest new businesses in town, Icicles, has been busy in its first week of business, serving up their frosty sweet treats to a community looking for fun to go with its food.

The difference between this and other ice cream shops is that they make the ice cream right there in front of you and freeze it on a cold plate.

Vu Truong and Hieu To, both from San Jose, are new to the ice cream business. Both were quickly attracted to the Icicles location in Willow Glen, which has become the place to be for ice cream lovers.

“We did a lot of scouting for locations and we thought Gilroy was the perfect location,” said Icicles chain co-owner Vu Truong. “I also spoke with several teenagers and they said there weren’t a lot of fun places to hang out at in Gilroy.”

Located in the plaza next to the Walmart and across the street from the Costco, Icicles has helped to bring some much-needed foot traffic to the stores nearby. A treat at Icicles is a natural motivator for kids being tutored at Mathnasium next door.

Icicles have grown considerably since its launch two years ago in Willow Glen. With locations in Pleasanton, Mountain View, Cupertino among others, Gilroy has become a new home for the budding business. It has taken a bit of trial and error, according to Truong as the company works out the best combinations of flavors, but the effort has been worth the work.

What stands out immediately at Icicles is how the ice cream is prepared on the cold plate pans. After choosing a flavor–ranging from the Oreo Blast and Cream or the Cereal Killer, Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Captain Crunch–the toppings and vanilla custard with cream, sugar, milk and eggs are brought to the cold plate pan. Then, the roller crunches up the toppings and pours the cream onto the plate, which is mixed together and pressed flat. Once the mixture is transformed into ice cream, it’s rolled up and topped with unlimited toppings, ready to eat before your eyes.

“We call it rolling,” Truong said. “We have all kinds of sayings. ‘Would you like to roll,’ ‘High Roller.’ It’s fun,”

With 20 part-time employees–most students and some who are working their first job–opening for business has been a challenge. With lively pop music playing on the speakers, Truong and To are trying to make the work as fun as possible. Fun itself is one of the chief draws of Icicles and after a healthy first week in sales, they’re putting the fun into funds.

“I think what makes us popular is the process of how we make the ice cream and that we don’t use preservatives,” Truong said. “It’s a fresh new experience. It’s different and unlimited toppings are wonderful.”

Truong and To have been pleased with their reception by the Gilroy business community. Icicles has also boosted the foot traffic for their neighbors.

“There wasn’t a lot of foot traffic here before we came along,” To said. “A lot of times customers will eat nearby and come here for dessert.”

For To, traffic on Highway 101 was part of his decision to open Icicles in Gilroy. For him, it’s a reverse commute to Gilroy from San Jose saving him hours wasted time sitting in traffic jams.

“If we were to open somewhere around San Francisco I would have spent up to three hours sitting in traffic,” To said. “Instead it’s a half an hour drive here from San Jose. I have three kids so that time is very important to me.”

The menu also includes non-dairy and vegan options such as Fruit Roll-Ups which substitutes sorbet for the vanilla custard.

“The sorbet is a slight bit different to make, but it basically comes out the same way,” Truong said.

As of yet, nobody has abused the unlimited toppings.

“We have about 15 to 20 different toppings, so I’m not sure if we could fit that all into a cup,” Truong said.