Anyone who’s visited Ida’s Nearabout in Sunnyside, Queens knows the bartender Big Shane. If you’ve sat at his bar, you know he brings high-quality and style to every drink he pours. Anyone who’s tried Big Shane’s Ice Cream, knows that the same approach most certainly applies.
For as long as Shane can remember he has loved ice cream. Growing up, he spent many an Irish summer day in Ballivor with a 99 Cone in hand (also known as a soft serve in America). One night when he was bartending and overheard a customer saying they needed two gallons of ice cream for an event, he just couldn’t resist.
“I can get that for you.”
He enlisted the culinary expertise of Sarah Pleitez, a California born pastry chef and recipe developer with 14 years of culinary experience under her belt. Her wealth of flavor knowledge coupled with Shane’s enthusiasm, had them whipping up adventurous custom batches in no time. Hours of sampling, stirring and churning resulted in the dessert discovery of a lifetime. Big Shane’s was born and the rest… is ice cream history.
The ice cream dream is still going strong, even in the face of some adversity. In September 2020, Big Shane was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer at the age of 27. He was told the cancer had spread from his lymph nodes up to his lungs and began treatment immediately with an expedited tumor removal surgery. He was then sent to the Oncology Department at Mount Sinai where he underwent chemotherapy treatment.
Certainly a challenging road, but Shane’s prognosis was extremely positive and is officially in remission as of January 2021. Thanks to the support of his friends and family, both in New York and across the pond, he is feeling strong and loved. Plus, there’s nothing like some homemade ice cream to keep the morale up.
So how is Big Shane’s Ice Cream managing in the face of the diagnosis AND the Covid-19 pandemic? Well, they’re a New York company after all, so they did what New Yorkers do best. They faced the challenges head on and adapted.
Sarah explains that when Big Shane’s started, “our brand strategy was directed primarily towards restaurant and bar sales. When the pandemic put this on hold, we decided to start packaging pints for individual sale. This way, we could get real time feedback on our new flavors AND get our neighbors their ice cream fix in a time when everyone needed it most. This approach did so well that we’ve decided to change our entire business model in favor of individual retail sales.”
The next step is to expand out of the test kitchen and move into distribution. The way things are going, nationwide shipping could be available by 2021. That’s right, nationwide. Go tell your friends.
For now, check out the New York pick up locations and take some Big Shane’s to-go. Staying home with a pint of ice cream is doing your part these days, right?