Wednesday, June 07, 2023

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

There are more than 15 ice cream stores in Bergen County, all part of the nationwide ice cream industry that earns more than $10.7 million annually. But there is only one in the area that sells kosher, homemade ice cream: Ice Cream on Grand.

Syed Rizvi, store owner, used to run the shop under the Carvel Banner, but now it’s all his own.

“It’s great fun having an ice cream store,” Rizvi said with a smile and bit of vanilla ice cream in his hair.

Rizvi nearly didn’t have an ice cream store. Twenty years ago he was looking to run a McDonalds or Burger King, but eventually decided running a Carvel would be a good option. After all, Americans eat, on average, 17 liters of ice cream each year according to research by the International Dairy Foods Association. After seeing the Grand Avenue location in Englewood, he fell in love.

From March to November each year, Rizvi sells an abundance of flavors in his decorated shop (an animal motif banner featuring seahorses, dolphins and giraffes eating cones of ice cream lines his walls along with photographs of smiling customers). In addition to favorites cookie monster, coconut, coffee and regular ice cream, the shop sells lactose-free, sugar-free, low-fat and vegan ice cream—meeting all diets with around 30 different flavors and styles of ice cream.

Buyers at the store eat inside and outside at the picnic tables and lounge chairs stationed around the store and parking lot.

“It’s our first trip of the season and they’re so excited,” Jennifer Horwitz, a local, said about her three children, one of whom still had a chocolate ice cream beard.

The store is connected with children in more ways than just feeding them ice cream. Ice Cream on Grand sponsors local baseball and soccer teams. Certificates of appreciation from schools are featured on the store walls. “I do it just to do something good for the kids,” Rizvi said.

Although he would like to stay open year round, Rizvi closes during the winter months because the reduced traffic and the cost of having to plow his lot would not make it profitable to stay open. “It’s a very hard business to be in,” Rizvi said.

A normal day for Rizvi involves making ice cream and cakes and making sure everything is clean. And customers do appreciate the hard work. One customer, a fan of the lemon sherbet, referred to the shop as “one of the thousand places to go before you die” in an e-mail he sent to Rizvi.

“What’s that? Deliciousness in a cone; that’s what it is,” Yessenia Gonzalez said to her friend after she asked about a flavor.

So now you have the scoop.

By Aliza Chasan

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