Michael “Mikey” Cole is a man who found redemption in ice cream.
A native of New York City’s Lower East Side, Cole sold drugs when he was younger, got caught and spent six months in jail. When he was released, Cole promised his mother he wouldn’t get into trouble again, and he eventually found his true calling as a legit businessman when he opened his own ice cream shop.
It’s called Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, and it’s in on Avenue A in Manhattan, just two blocks from where Cole grew up. There are a lot of ice cream shops in the neighborhood, but what sets Mikey Likes It apart is Cole’s creativity. “This is pop culture-inspired ice cream,” Cole says.
Among the flavors on the menu at Mikey Likes It: Pink Floyd, Brady Bunch and Ice Ice Baby. While Pink Floyd is a mix of strawberry and cheesecake flavors, Brady Bunch is what happens when banana pudding, Vienna Fingers crème-filled cookies and crushed vanilla wafers meet ice cream. Ice Ice Baby is a blend of three different types of vanilla beans.
Locals pack the tiny shop, and celebrities are customers too. Hillary Clinton stopped by when she was running for president, and the likes of rapper Future and basketball star Joakim Noah are fans, Cole says.
Cole is a role model for kids in the neighborhood. If they stop by the shop and show him they’ve gotten an A on their report cards, he gives them a free scoop of ice cream. “It’s to show them we are the same as them. I’m a little older, but I’m still the same child at heart,” he says.
The ice cream entrepreneur has this advice to offer young people: If you find something you like and are passionate about, go for it. “Don’t not go for your dreams,” he says. “Go for every last one you have.”
Offbeat & Fun
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199 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009