Few things bring back the warm fuzzies of childhood better than a good scoop (OK, two scoops) of ice cream, but that trip down memory lane can be hard to come by here: This city is saturated with corporate self-serve frozen treat options, where loud music and an even louder paint job plus the pressure of picking the right toppings as you march down an assembly line takes a lot of the fun away.
Thankfully, husband-and-wife team Mohan and Holiday Kumar, plus their good friend Sam Mason, a former wd-50 pastry chef, saw the market gap and decided that New York City was ready for a new kind of ice cream shop, one that would preach quality ingredients and innovative combinations–like chorizo caramel–that bear little resemblance to Baskin Robbins’ 31 original flavors. And so they’re opening OddFellows at 175 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn today.
The birth of the idea for the parlor coincided with, well, an actual birth: The Kumars were expecting twins when Mohan met up with Mason one night, which laid the groundwork for a life-changing career move. After Mohan described his wife’s cravings for extremely salty and sweet foods to his friend, the chef presented the couple with a pint of his signature pretzel ice cream. The gift was well received, and the trio came to a consensus that Mason might want to think about producing his cold concoctions on a much larger scale, perhaps for complete strangers who would pay for it.
Though they couldn’t “afford to put an ice cream shop on Bedford” according to Mohan, the partners knew they wanted to be in Williamsburg, where they believed their unique ice cream concept had a legit chance at becoming a successful business. They found a space just down the road from Smorgasburg and the East River Ferry and built it out; the team handled all of the interior design work, and Holiday curated many of the decorations–like the Craigslist-sourced painting of Jesus enjoying an ice cream cone. She also designed the uniforms, including the red-striped aprons.
The finished interior evokes a classic New York City soda fountain with some outrageous artifacts, like a toy monkey Mason received from his father. Behind the bar, the chef and his team create homemade sodas; along the window, customers can take a swiveling stool and enjoy a maple-bacon pecan cone while looking out over Kent Avenue and the Williamsburg Bridge. A spot at a table in the center of the room provides a respite for a cup of Battenkill Valley Creamery sweet cream. Flavors will continue to rotate seasonally; check Facebook for updates.
OddFellows Ice Cream Co. opens to the public today at noon. Five cents from every scoop goes to Food Bank for New York City.