Andrew Fox ladles Mississippi Mud ice cream into a quart container for a customer at the Ice Cream Club’s original store in Manalapan, 278 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan. Mississippi Mud contains chocolate ice cream, chocolate chips and fudge.
Purple Daze, Heavenly Hash – the names sound like a blast from the past. But they’re actually ice creams, made by the Ice Cream Club, using locally sourced sugar, in dozens of flavors like Red Velvet Cake, with little pieces of real cake; and Garbage Can, with chunks of seven different brand-name candy bars and peanuts.
The Ice Cream Club makes these variations – plus 40 custom mixes, and 75 flavors of soft-serve and frozen probiotic yogurt. Purple Daze features ICC’s Black Raspberry ice cream – with a black-raspberry crinkle and dark-chocolate black-raspberry cups. Heavenly Hash contains rich chocolate ice cream, swirled with creamy marshmallows, butter-roasted almonds and chocolate chips.
In 1982, Rich Draper and best friend Tom Jackson decided not to go corporate after graduating from the University of Illinois. Instead, they found a business opportunity in a warmer climate: a shopping plaza being built in Manalapan, Fla., where they could get a lease on a small ice cream shop.
The fact that they knew nothing about ice cream made no difference to them, so they scraped the funds together and went for it.
When Draper and Jackson wanted to sell a quality ice cream but couldn’t find it, they decided to make their own – in the back of their 600-square-foot store in Southeast Florida. In the 18 months it took for the shopping center – Plaza del Mar (Plaza of the Sea) – to be completed, they learned about running an ice cream shop, as well as making the products.
The Ice Cream Club was a successful endeavor
The enterprise grew to nine company-owned stores. But in the early 1990s, they sold all but the original store when they decided to specialize in manufacturing and distribution instead. They bought an 18,000-square-foot building in Boynton Beach and turned it into an ice cream plant.
The Ice Cream Club enterprise now employs 55 people, and their average worker has been with the company for 20 years. Jackson’s son Chase works there full time.
Draper now serves as chief executive officer and president of ICC; Jackson is senior vice president.
ICC makes small batches of 600 gallons each, and sells to small mom-and-pop stores, resorts, country clubs and retirement communities. Special-flavor ice creams are blended in artisan style by Coleman Kelleher, who has 25 years with the company. He and two co-workers use hundreds of ingredients to create over 175 flavors, churning out more than 1 million gallons a year.
Ice cream goes from the room where it’s created to the blast freezer, where it stays for 24 hours – to be sure it is frozen to the core – and then transported to the storage freezer. After that, ICC ships the ice cream in its fleet of eight trucks for delivery as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia.
ICC takes precautions – special seals, constantly monitored temperatures – and even has an antimicrobial floor. Quality control is supervised by Maria E. Rodriguez, director of ICC’s Quality Control Division; she has over 25 years of supervisory experience.
Heather Draper, Rich’s wife, handles marketing for the company, including the packaging of the special ice cream orders that are shipped to customers.
The Ice Cream Club Store is located at 278 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan. For more information, call (561) 582-0778 or visit shop.icecreamclub.com.
Mikki Royce is a writer and publicist. A “foodie,” she is a member of Slow Food, a local CSA; and is learning about food and nutrition, gearing up to complete a natural-style cookbook. Royce is a graduate of the University of Miami’s School of Communications.