Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff began their brand selling ice-cream from a truck in 2009. They initially planned it just as a summer job but it proved an unexpected success. It was followed by the opening of their store at 125 East 7th Street in 2011.
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With its eye-catching name and imaginative soft-serve ice-cream creations, this also proved instantly popular. Flavors included the Dorothy: vanilla ice cream topped with dulce de leche and then rolled in crushed Nilla wafers.
It was followed by a Big Gay Ice Cream recipe book in 2015 and the opening of three further NYC locations. Locations in the West Village (across the street from the Stonewall Inn) and Upper West Side have reopened for takeaway, but another at South Street Seaport remains temporarily closed. Outside NYC, there’s also a location in Philadelphia, while since 2017 you’ve also been able to buy pint-sized containers of Big Gay Ice Cream in select grocery stores across the US.
Quint and Petroff said in a statement that when they opened the store in 2011, this stretch of 7th Street was buzzing with hip and acclaimed food locations, but noted several had closed in the last few years, making it less of a destination. The business, unsurprisingly, has also been hit by the pandemic: the store had been closed since last March.
“With great sadness but with no regrets, Bryan and I decided that the time came for Big Gay Ice Cream to close our East Village location,” said the statement.
“125 East Seventh Street is where Big Gay Ice Cream became more than just our overblown hobby. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck grew into a legitimate hit and in 2011 we decided that it was supposed to be what we did with our lives.
“We signed the lease, quit our day jobs, and built ourselves a perfectly imperfect hole-in-the-wall soft serve joint. I would work a late night in the ice cream truck, staying out long enough to be able to afford a prep sink the next day so in a way, every Big Gay Ice Cream Truck customer helped build that place.
“For a decade the shop hummed along and put tens of thousands of Salty Pimps in the hands of folks from Tierra Del Fuego to Lapland. It made many people, including us, very happy.
“We always knew that if we ever opened a shop it would be in the East Village. It had to be. In its heyday that section of East Seventh was one of the hottest food blocks in the city — even The New York Times singled it out. We wanted to be right there with Caracas, Luke’s Lobster, Porchetta, Butter Lane and Pylos. Damn, that block had energy and we loved it.
“The batteries have gone a bit dim on that street. The empty storefronts (kept vacant by landlords working tax breaks) that plague the city have settled in. It ain’t what it was.
“We decided that even if the shop managed to make it through ‘the COVID thing’ it would never truly recover. We need to be able to jam customers in during the summer to make enough money to get us through the offseason. That won’t work anymore. Knowing that the usual fall semester student rush won’t be coming this year we have decided to call it.
“Thank you all for making wonderful memories at our first shop and thank you to the East Village for having us. We’re going to “keep on keeping on” at our other locations and hope to open another East Village or Lower East Side location before too long.
“Goodbye East Seventh. So long and thanks for all the calories.”
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NYC Restaurant Week & Go
New York’s restaurant and hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. On Thursday, it was announced that the 29th, annual New York Restaurant Week (January 25-31) will be going ahead but in a very different form.
The event encourages New Yorkers and visitors to try out some of the city’s finest restaurants. It offers many an opportunity to check out a business that might typically be out of their price range.
NYC&Go, the agency tasked with promoting the city, yesterday announced this year’s event will be called ‘NYC Restaurant Week &Go’, encouraging locals to buy food for takeaway to enjoy at home.
Usually, around 370 restaurants take part in the promotion, and they pay a fee to be included in the official listings. This year, NYC&Go is not charging any fee and wants as many restaurants to take part as possible, provided they pledge to offer the same meal deals.
So far, around 570 restaurants will be taking part across the five boroughs of the city (Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). Last year, only 17 restaurants outside of Manhattan took part, but that number has risen to 184 this year.
All the restaurants taking part can be searched on the launch day (January 25) at nycgo.com/restaurant-week It will be searchable by categories, also, such as “Black-Owned,” “NYC Classics,” “Date Night,” “Fry-Yay!,” “Winter Warm-Up.”