The Local: East Village in collaboration with The New York Times Big Gay Ice Cream Shop’s Owners Take a Break, But Not From Each Other

The Local

By Nadja Popovich & Claire Ward

Last Friday, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop closed for the holiday season. Co-owners Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff are taking a break from the shop until it reopens Jan. 2, but the business partners won’t be taking a break from each other: the sultans of soft-serve have been a couple for six years.

Mr. Quint, who previously played the bassoon in various orchestras, said they stumbled into the ice cream business by accident. In 2008, he jumped on an opportunity to rent a used ice-cream truck through a friend.

“I was keeping my ears and eyes open for weird things to do,” he said. Mr. Petroff hopped on board both with moral support and by helping serve ice cream nights after work.

After two years on the truck and countless ice cream cones, the duo decided it was either time to find something new or expand. To their fans’ delight, they decided to open the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop this past September.

The shop has proved so popular that even on a recent December afternoon, it was packed with customers such as Kristen, who took a bite of a specialty cone and said, “Oh, it’s amazing. Sweet and salty — vanilla and pretzel. It’s a wonderful combination.”

Mr. Petroff and Mr. Quint admitted they were unsure what working together would do to their relationship. “I do know other couples who own a business together and I always wonder...” said Mr. Petroff, before Mr. Quint finished his sentence: “How do they not kill each other?”

So far, the road has been relatively bump-free.

“We’re not curing cancer,” said Mr. Petroff, “we’re just having fun, and that has to always be at the forefront of what we do.”

“Just smile and sell ice cream, you could have much worse stuff to do in your life,” added Mr. Quint.

For more on how the couple met and how they keep it together, see The Local’s video.

The Sunday Times of London Meals on Wheels in the USA

The Sunday Times

Doug, the owner of Manhattan’s campiest old-school ice cream van, used to be a bassoonist. Then, with his partner, Bryan, he discovered the joys of Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve covered with dulce de leche, chocolate and sea salt) and less conventional toppings such as curried coconut and wasabi pea dust. They serve them up to the East Village hipsters in Union Square.

Follow that truck: Open on warm days, spring to autumn, on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street, but check www.twitter.com/biggayicecream. A year-round offshoot has opened at 125 East 7th Street.

AM New York Hot List / Eating & Drinking

AM New York

Food truck turned brick-and-mortar store: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
 

Though we love its sweet treats, our only grip with the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is that in order to enjoy its clever concoctions like the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed Nilla wafers), you have to be willing to wait upwards of 40 minutes to get it... and the truck only operates through the fall. Luckily, the new brick-and-mortar shop in the East Village has answered our prayers so we can get our fix way past ice cream season.

New York Magazine Grub Street

New York Magazine

Fall Flavor: 41 Things We're Psyched to Eat (and Drink) This Season: The 'Mexican Affogayto'
 

The brick-and-mortar outpost of the unfathomably popular Big Gay Ice Cream Truck opened pretty late in summer — Labor Day weekend, in fact. So it’s a good thing they’re planning warm options, like this hilariously named mixture of hot chocolate, ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, and chiles.

AM New York A Day with the Sultan of Soft Serve

AM New York

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In the world of ice cream, Doug Quint is a rock star. The heavily tattooed man behind The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has a cult-like following (the business has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 8,000 fans on Facebook), and people line up around the block to meet him (and to try his ice cream, too). Quint, a 39-year-old professional bassoonist runs the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck with his partner (in life and in business), Bryan Petroff. It started out two years ago as a fun idea for a summer job, but has become so popular that the two will also open the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on Seventh Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, later this month.

“One of the reasons we wanted to have a store was to give people another way to get this ice cream — a lot of locals wouldn’t wait on this line,” Quint said. The truck’s big draw isn’t the ice cream — it’s standard vanilla and chocolate soft-serve — but the specialty concoctions. There’s the Salty Pimp, a cone of vanilla with sea salt and dulce de leche in a chocolate dip ($5), and the Monday Sundae — a waffle cone lined with Nutella, filled with ice cream and dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream ($6). Cones even come lined with spicy peanut butter.

Here’s just one day in the life of one unusual — and hardworking — ice cream man.

1. First stop: Truck depot.
Quint and Petroff own the Big Gay Ice Cream business, but not the truck. Quint heads to a truck depot in Hunts Point around 10 a.m., where he cleans and stocks the rental (which looks just like a regular Mister Softee-style truck) for about an hour and gets gas (about $100 for a tank). Quint buys most of his ingredients, such as the wasabi peas and curry powder he uses as toppings, at the Fairway in Harlem on weekends.

2. Cruising down Second Avenue.
Quint drives down Second Avenue from the Bronx to his Union Square location. It’s a bumpy ride, but he takes it in stride, waving back at many of the onlookers who wave at him.

3. Pit stop at the store.
On the afternoon we tagged along, Quint stopped at his soon-to-open store to pick up more Nutella. While there, he chatted with his partner and the store’s manager, Jake, who will be the face of the shop much the way Quint is the face of the truck. 

4. Holy lines!
As we pulled up to the northwest corner of Union Square, we could make out a line of about half a dozen people already formed. And by the time the truck officially opened for business 20 minutes later, the line was 30 deep.

5. A quick bite… and some Diet Coke.
Quint is slammed with customers from the moment he opens (around 2:30 p.m. every weekday) until closing (around 8:30 p.m.). He scarfed down a Pret-a-Manger tuna sandwich and some Diet Coke and was ready to open. “OK, everyone, be nice!” he called out to the growing line of people. “And don’t cut.”

6. Mr. Personality.
While he serves ice cream, Quint bops to music from his iPhone. A people person in the truest sense, he’s jovial and funny — and the customers eat it up. His infectious attitude seems to rub off on them, too. Can you imagine a line of 30 hungry people in New York with zero cutting or arguing? It happens here.

7. Yes, there are occupational hazards.
Interestingly, Quint has developed carpal tunnel syndrome from serving ice cream all day. He’s also constantly facing mechanical challenges — our original ride-along was rescheduled when the generator couldn’t keep up with the heat. The A/C tends to go off and on, and during the worst of the heatwave last month he couldn’t get the temperature below 100 degrees. Quint is also concerned that when the recent food-truck crackdown that has swept midtown heads downtown, he’ll face ticketing and orders to relocate. Despite all that, it’s clear the nature of the biz suits him well. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether Quint eats ice cream all day long, the answer is no.

And he’s usually too ice-creamed out to eat it at night.

Photo: Ryan Thatcher

Food & Wine Ice Cream Dessert Shortcuts

Food & Wine By Kate Heddings

Top ice cream artisans tell how to transform store-bought pints into great ice cream desserts like terrines, bonbons and pies.
Driving around New York City in a secondhand Mister Softee truck, Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck sell treats to customers at the curb. But their fans don’t come for the soft serve itself, which Big Gay buys premade; the fun is in the toppings — olive oil and sea salt, crushed Trix, wasabi-pea dust. As Quint says, “The last place to look for ice cream toppings is a supermarket ice cream aisle.” Inspired, F&W asked America’s most brilliant ice cream artisans for fast ways to transform store-bought ice cream. The results range from a terrine layering ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet to chocolate-covered ice cream bonbons sprinkled with salt. And the Big Gay guys share their recipe for an ice cream pie with a fresh blueberry sauce.

Berry Ice Cream Pie
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 12 whole graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 pints strawberry ice cream, softened slightly
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 pints blueberries, plus more for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, stir the cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch glass pie plate and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, line another 9-inch pie plate with plastic wrap and spread with 1 pint of the ice cream. Top with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, 10 minutes. Spread another pint of ice cream on top of the plastic, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Repeat with a final layer of ice cream and freeze until firm.
3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil the vinegar over moderate heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the 2 pints of blueberries and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, crushing the berries, until thick and jammy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and freeze until chilled.
4. Transfer the top layer of flattened ice cream to the crust, spreading it to the edges. Top with half of the blueberry mixture. Repeat with the middle layer of ice cream and the remaining blueberry mixture and top with the final layer of ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with fresh blueberries.