Van Leeuwen Readies for Sundaes on Sunday, New Trucks, and Cinnamon Ice Cream


Gather all ye lactose faithful: This Sunday, ice cream impresario Ben Van Leeuwen will team up with chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt for an ice cream social at Murray’s Cheese. Van Leeuwen, who tells Fork in the Road this will be his first ice cream social, will be serving chocolate, vanilla, and espresso ice creams, which will be crowned with Knipschildt’s dessert sauces and further embellished with whipped cream. The sundaes will be available between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., at a cost of $5. Laura O’Neill, one of Van Leeuwen‘s co-founders and Ben’s wife, says that the company was asked to supply nine gallons of ice cream and 200 cups, though given the New Yorker attraction to anything both edible and free or cheap, she’s thinking that more cups may be in the works.

Also in the works? Two new trucks, which the company plans to roll out in mid-August. O’Neill isn’t sure yet where they’ll be located, though she says that both the Upper East and Upper West Sides are possibilities. As for plans to open a storefront, they’re “on the back burner” for the time being: “We did look at a few sites, but we haven’t been able to find anything right,” O’Neill says. “Since it’s our flagship, we want it to be perfect.” They’ve looked at spaces in Nolita, which offers “a bit more nightlife” than the truck’s daytime Soho location. They weren’t particularly impressed with a couple of sites on Broadway: “It’s just not charming to have it on a main street,” O’Neill says. “We want foot traffic, but we can’t just be next to a discount shoe store. So our eyes are still open.”

In the meantime, the company is getting ready to add cinnamon ice cream to its repertoire. O’Neill has spent the past week sampling cinnamon from around the world. “Most cinnamons are actually cassia,” she says, adding that they’ll be using the real stuff, from Costa Rica.

As for the social, O’Neill says that, like her husband, she’s never experienced this particular bit of Americana. “I’m from Australia, so this whole thing is totally new to me,” she admits. “People in Australia aren’t as into ice cream as they are over here. We have customers who are businessmen. I can never imagine that happening in Melbourne, a guy in suit craving ice cream at lunchtime.”