It looks like spring may have finally arrived in New York and it’s just in time because Bushwick is about to get its very first ice cream shop! Evergreen Ice Cream Co. will open its doors on April 27, 2013 but we were invited to check out the pre-launch party on Saturday and got a chance to sneak a peek at the venue, discuss the new shop with owner Cisco Garcia and, of course, eat free ice cream!
Garcia is only 23 years old and, while an ice cream parlor in Bushwick may seem like just another symbol of gentrification, this shop is unique. Tucked away on a quiet corner on Evergreen Ave, the aptly named Evergreen Ice Cream Co. still bears a sign that reads “Evergreen Deli Grocery,” a reminder of the corner store his father Marino owned and operated in the ’90s. Though the family left Bushwick for the Bronx, they held on to the building. After graduating from an entrepreneurship program at Vanderbilt, Garcia saw an opportunity to create something unique. “I got the opportunity to take over the space and I chose ice cream because it is something I love, something the neighborhood was lacking and something that makes a lot of people happy – both new Bushwick and old.”
Garcia is no stranger to the ongoing gentrification conversation about Bushwick; he is, in fact, rather opinionated about it! When discussing the shop in the light of the quickly changing landscape of Bushwick, he said, “I’m focused on Bushwick because I’m actually from Brooklyn and not because I moved here from Iowa and found an opportunity to draw tourists to a business. No offense to Brooklynites from Iowa. The ice cream is excellent and we’ll be playing around with sundae and float ideas and, at the end of the day, few places offer excellent ice cream. It’s too easy to take the inexpensive way out to boost margins or to just open a franchise. This will not be one of those places and it’ll be Bushwick’s local place.”
The shop will feature ice cream from two small New York businesses: Phinn & Phebes, a Brooklyn-based company, and Jane’s, a company based in the Hudson Valley. The shop offers a variety of flavors both traditional and innovative, like the must-try Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Along with ice cream, the shop will also offer coffee, tea and Paletas (a Latin American popsicle made from fresh fruit). Vegan ice cream options may become available in the future as Garcia is still looking for a supplier.
I’m not sure anyone could argue against opening an ice cream parlor in Bushwick but, as Garcia himself notes, it’s a pretty obvious symbol of gentrification. “I think it’s impossible to say that a business of this nature is not a result of gentrification. Ice cream is not a staple of our diets and less so of our budgets. The thing businesses need to keep in mind is that this is still a predominantly hispanic neighborhood with many socio-economic issues. There is nothing wrong with creating a business that is a result of gentrification, but you must have respect for the people who aren’t in your bubble. That could mean making sure you don’t price them out or that you don’t alienate them.” The changing face of Bushwick is still an ongoing and fascinating conversation but a new business that attempts to bridge the gap between old and new seems like a step in the right direction and is as refreshing as an ice cream sundae on a hot afternoon.