Yes, they’re open! At long last! During the early days of the pandemic, they were
social distancing with ice cream lovers. Then in autumn 2020, an arson fire at
Tirapelli Plaza shuttered all the businesses including Long Island Ice Cream. On
April 23, 2021, they happily reopened and are welcoming the community of
supporters. Nothing is sweeter than a little ice cream – except lots of ice cream. Is
there a milkshake favorite? Some days are a Rocky Road and some days are
Cookies ‘n Cream.
When Ken acquired Long Island Ice Cream (LIIC), it needed lots of TLC. Opened in
the ‘70s, the one-time Baskin-Robbins passed through various owners until Ken
took over in 2009. The then owners, originally from Vietnam, had chosen the
name Long Island in honor of a famous island in the Mekong Delta. Ken decided
to preserve the name and goodwill with locals. Today, fans of Long Island Ice
Cream believe it’s a nod to New York, a valid assumption.
“First thing I did was infuse money into rehabilitating the store and products.
Focusing on quality and attention to detail, Long Island committed to serving the
best ice cream from different manufacturers – including the local favorites from
Gunther’s! We grew year after year and made a commitment to providing the
best customer service,” Ken said.
About 75% of Long Island’s customer base is from outside of the area. With a
focus on quality, supporters clearly like what they do. Word of mouth is the best
advertising in a world where social media reigns. “We make some of the best
milkshakes in the area! We hear this again and again and that ‘friends
recommended’ LIIC. The milkshakes and smoothies are fully customizable. We
don’t use any syrups and use higher butterfat content ice creams and milk – the
key to a great shake. Adding fresh fruits makes it even better!”
They buy from three different vendors and select what they do best. There are
four Long Island divisions: ice cream, drinks – milkshakes and smoothies, cupcakes
(German chocolate, vanilla, coconut pineapple, red velvet, also gender reveal, and
brownie cups, and coffee.
Yes, LIIC also does fresh-brewed coffee drinks – nothing is pre-brewed and
everything is made to order. Just like ice cream, coffee drinkers are very specific
so Ken caters to their penchants carrying Pete’s, Starbucks, and (Sacramento’s
own) Temple. The difference between coffee cremas (the flavorful, aromatic,
reddish-brown froth that rests on top of a shot of Espresso) is noticeable and
coffee drinkers have a preference. “Think coffee milkshake! Try fining this
anywhere else – we grind, brew, and chill the coffee before blending it into
mouthwatering ice cream. I strive for perfection and have learned that people are
willing to travel for that ‘perfect’ confection or beverage.”
At the onset of Covid-19, LIIC immediately modified their service. They installed
an electronic lock to control the number of people in the store; added extra staff
and took orders outdoors.
“We actually grew during that time because we changed the way we did business
and helped new and returning customers who were concerned. It’s still been
challenging but we’ve been very lucky for all the people who have supported us.
Going into March it was scary and we saw a little downturn, worrying it might be
the end for us. Every crisis can be weathered with cash reserve; fortunately, we
received a small PPP loan and disaster aid through SBA. When you have
employees counting on you, it was a huge relief.”
“Even though business life on Stockton Boulevard has been tough, we have a
good clientele base and I have a good location. The cost-benefit is that rents are
affordable. For starting a small business, it’s economically viable. It was a good
decision to come here and I try to build relationships. What better way to make
people happy then to make them a delicious treat and see them smile and say.
‘That’s why I’m back again!’ That’s the enjoyment.'
Born in Oak Park, Ken still lives in the neighborhood where he was raised. Joining
the Navy right out of high school, he traveled the world before returning to
Sacramento to help his mother. Ken has worked at UC Davis Medical Center
interpreting heart rhythms for 20 years – the ice cream parlor is a ‘side gig’. “It’s
been a great 11 years and I’ve met so many good people. Nothing like the feeling
when someone tells you, ‘That was perfect!’ You feel like you’re doing something
Long Island Ice Cream
5017 Stockton Boulevard