The way to a community’s heart is through their stomach!
Michael “Mikey” Cole is the owner of New York’s popular ice cream shop, Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, where they’re known just as much for their community initiatives as they are their delicious dessert.
According to Black Enterprise, Cole said, “The inspiration behind the ice cream shop is to create a safe haven for everyone that also creates memories and empowers the community. This is my version of the lemonade stand. The kids now have to be encouraged and empowered to be able to reach their goals and in turn, be successful.”
Cole got his first recipe from his late Aunt Lucy. He discovered the instructions for what she put in her ice cream and started putting his own spin on it, the secret ingredient in all of his flavors. Many of Mikey’s flavors are an homage to pop culture, including popular options such as “Foxy Brown,” a delicious swirl of mocha ice cream with crushed chocolate wafer cookies amd a sea salt caramel swirl, the “Brady Bunch,” a banana pudding ice cream with Vienna Fingers and crushed vanilla wafers, and the “Eat to Heal,” in honor of the late Honduran herbalist Dr. Sebi, a blueberry-hibiscus vegan ice cream.
WhitmansNYC x Mikey Likes It Ice Cream “Put Bacon Over Everything” ice cream. Photo Courtesy of @mikeylikesiticecream/Instagram
The NY native often collaborates with various businesses and public figures for his flavors and merch. He has created custom flavored ice cream for Jay-Z and Hilary Clinton, collaborated on a “Mikey Likes It Ice Cream” sneaker with Ewing Athletics and teamed up with rideshare app Via to offer discounted rides for folks around NYC. He is constantly venturing into new partnerships and keeping customers coming back with his various flavors of the month.
His two shops in NYC’s Lower East Side and Harlem serve as beacons of hope to inspire underserved communities. Cole believes it’s bigger than ice cream and has plans on continuing to use his desserts to expand his mission. “While we work to grow our business, we will be launching our Mikey Likes It Ice Cream Academy. This is our not-for-profit program where we take at-risk youth and teach them how to obtain a food handlers certificate and be able to work in the food world. We will help them build character and then give them the opportunity to work in the business,” he said.
Ewing Athletics x Mikey Likes It Ice Cream shoe. Photo Courtesy of @mikeylikesiticecream/Instagram
The ice cream king has no plans of slowing down any time soon and wants to continue to give back to the community and help as many people as he can. “Whether it’s an ice cream maker, a flavor pilot, a graphic designer or anyone that has a passion to help the business grow, we want to help build others as they help us grow the business. This is what will help strengthen each other and in turn strengthen the community,” said Cole.
In July 2021, after having to halt operations following the pandemic, Mikey spoke with Humans Of New York about why his shop is still important.
Congratulations, Mikey! We can’t wait to see what you do next!
Photo Courtesy of @mikeylikesiticecream/Instagram