Saturday, April 20, 2024

Ice cream gone local


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On any warm or hot day, a scoop or two of Rtic Melt homemade ice cream will hit the spot.

Whether it is the popular soursop, nutmeg, ginger, coconut or pineapple, for businessman Noel Ifill, serving gourmet ice cream with indigenous flavours and “real fruit” was a deliberate decision.

“We opened in March 2013. We saw an ice cream business – Tuck-away – for sale and we bought it and thought we would be able to enhance the product. We bought Tuck Away and retooled the whole operation. We didn’t buy it and continue with the same old features they would have had.

“When we first bought the business back in 2012 we had bought some equipment to enhance the business and we had an issue with a piece of it. We were up and running within a few months and then we had to send the equipment back to the US, so we had to close for a few months.

“Then we were upstairs W.H Golden Plaza. After the equipment was sorted out, this space became available and we decided to move here,” he said during the interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

During the closure, training was done and the business was reshaped as the principals looked “for better ways to do the product”. This included making their own waffle cones for which equipment had to be purchased. They also had to re-engineer the existing equipment.

“I don’t spend money today for today. People see me and see my movements and wonder why, but one of the things in business I realize is once you believe in yourself, that’s the most important part.

“Business is not about all of the theory and all about the textbook. I’ve never read a textbook I‘ve done all my business practical. I say to people: ‘I don’t have education, I have inspiration and I move to suit’,” said Ifill, who has been operating other businesses for more than 20 years.

He is responsible for the quality, flavour and consistency of the product.

“We try to make sure that the customer remembers what he or she had the last time. So if you had vanilla the last time, when you come for vanilla today and when you come again in the next ten years, the flavour will be the same.

“We don’t guess anything here. Everything is done by weights and measurement. We work with a formula.

“We work closely with Rose and LaFlamme. They’re responsible for all of my flavours. We use several of his flavours, but we put them together differently. We also import some of our flavours,” Ifill said.

Disclosing that they are working on offering more products such as sorbets, he said that although customers would have 16 flavours to choose from at any time, they make more than 26.

“I juggle it. The girls tell me what is selling better than what. We try new flavours all the time. Soursop is number one. Nutmeg is number two. You’d be surprised to know that coconut sells a lot. Pistachio, banana, cinnamon, ginger; cookies and cream – we use WIBISCO products with that,” he said.

The decision to participate in BMEX this year was a good one, Ifill said, and although they failed to win the best new product prize, they were able to bring a greater awareness to the handmade gourmet ice cream.

“I’ve also been invited to the NIFCA culinary arena and expo,” he said.

He and his brother, Wayne Barrow, recently returned from the US where they did “two ice cream shows”.

Although he was mum about about his plans to expand, Ifill did say it would mean adding to their complement of four employees – three of whom work full-time and the other part-time.

“Expansion is in the pipeline, but like everything else, we don’t move haphazardly. Everything is calculated. You have to make sure when you make a move it makes sense. You don’t make a move and then have to retract. The operation is a very expensive one. The equipment is very expensive. We need to have all of our ducks lined up before we do anything else,” the businessman said.

While the product will not be packaged and available in supermarkets or mobile retailers, he would like to have it served in hotels.

“We want to supply hotels. We have some very serious plans. We want to make our ice cream the number one ice cream in Barbados’ households. We want to make Rtic Ice cream number one. So when you hear ice cream, you hear Rtic Melt,” said Ifill. (Green Bananas Media)


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