With summer just around the corner there’s no better way to cool off than with a scoop of creamy and delicious ice cold ice cream. If you’re on the hunt for a new brand to try, Wynwood Parlor, a Miami-based shop is not only Black owned, but features handcrafted ice cream sandwiches made from small-batch cookies, artisan ice cream and roll-on toppings.
Developed by Larry McMillion and his two young sons, the company started as Miami’s first artisanal ice cream truck hand-painted by a local artist in 2016 and quickly expanded to include a brick-and-mortar bar and ice cream lounge at Bay Parc residences in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, nationwide shipping via Goldbelly, full-scale ice cream catering, and wholesale delivery to Miami’s top restaurants and hotels, with future expansion planned for 2021 and beyond.
Though several studies have found that Black businesses were hit hardest by the global pandemic, with a 41% drop in working business owners, the shop has managed to still thrive as one of the most on-demand locations for those looking for a scoop — just in time for the country reopening.
Featuring 20+ flavors including vegan offerings and unique combinations, Wynwood Parlor’s signature flavors include the Bedrock (red velvet cookies, vanilla ice cream, rolled in Fruity Pebbles), Mister 305 (white chocolate chip, guava cake cookies with vanilla ice cream), Cookie Monster (double chocolate cookies, cookies & cream ice cream, rolled in chocolate chips), and Secret Vegan (vegan chocolate chip cookies, vegan vanilla ice cream, rolled in sliced almonds), it’s no surprise why people can’t get enough.
For ESSENCE, McMillion shares his advice for other up-and-coming Black food entrepreneurs, the challenges of transitioning from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location and how you can get your hands on their ice cream even if you don’t live in Miami.
What inspired you to start an ice cream business?
I started Wynwood Parlor in 2016 with my oldest son Kelton as a passion project and opportunity to spend quality time together. I’ve always worked on the corporate side of food and beverage, so Wynwood Parlor was a creative outlet for both of us while teaching my son the fundamentals of being an entrepreneur. When my youngest son Caleb got a bit older, we brought him in to help us. I’m proud to say that Wynwood Parlor is our family business.
What advice would you give an up-and-coming Black food entrepreneur in the dessert industry?
The advice I would give can translate beyond the dessert industry, which would be to embrace technology. COVID-19 has only accelerated our ability to implement user-friendly technology and everything will continue to move in that direction so make sure to stay up-to-date with the trends. Another word of advice I would offer is to be flexible and willing to work with people of all backgrounds and personalities and above all, be inclusive in your overall business and marketing approach.
What do you think makes Wynwood Parlor stand out?
Our business structure allows for multiple, flexible outlets to push out our product from our ice cream truck, ice cream carts (great for pop-up events), shipping locally through third-party apps Like UberEats and nationally through Goldbelly, community events, retail, and through partnerships with organizations like Soho Beach House.
We also have a great product and what separates us and makes us stand out from similar products is that we have perfected hand-crafted ice cream novelties that travel well, allowing us to ship nationally. We can ship ice cream sandwiches from Miami to California and they will arrive ready to enjoy.
Can you explain the concept behind the flavors?
Our flavors are based on dessert-fanatics tendencies. We have something for everyone and are constantly bringing in new items and flavors to try, not just limited to ice cream sandwiches. For partnerships, if someone has an idea or a concept, we can create an ice cream sandwich around that idea with the help of our in-house baker and the client. Our vegan offerings are also important to me and something we’ve chosen to lean into because a lot of African Americans struggle with lactose intolerance, so I’ve created dozens of vegan options that are 100% dairy-and-nut-free.
Were there any challenges in transitioning from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location?
Of course, the main challenge being the cost of real estate and finding a brick-and-mortar that makes sense for our business model. For us, this is a high-density area where people ‘work, love and play’ and we can offer walk-up, takeout, and delivery services. As we sell a lower-priced product, this is a crucial part of our success and we are always open to having conversations about new opportunities!
How can Black Foodies support? (where can they purchase it)?
We ship nationwide through Goldbelly and locally in Miami through third-party apps including UberEats, Doordash, Postmates, and Grubhub. If you’re visiting Miami this summer, make sure to visit our new Miami Beach store at 910 West Avenue.