Photo by Danielle Levitt for Out
"It's the Big Gay Takeover," Bryan Petroff, co-owner of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, says by phone from LAX, as he waits for his flight back to New York City. "All the conservatives were right: our agenda is being fulfilled."
Petroff is referring to the fact that he and his romantic and business partner, Doug Quint (who were recognized in the 2013 Out100), announced this week that they would be opening up a Big Gay Ice Cream outpost in L.A. this spring. It all began with a popular food truck before they expanded into two stores in New York City. Now they've signed the lease for a 1,500 square foot store on Broadway, located in Los Angeles's gentrifying downtown core after a new Ace Hotel opened nearby. They'll also be near the flagship store for Swedish retailer Acne, a beauty boutique called Aesop, and the much-loved Alma restaurant.
"We've been looking at real estate for some time," Petroff explained. "We brought our first truck out in summer 2012, but it wasn't until recently that the L.A. restaurant scene seemed to really be making a mark." He said that around that time the folks at the Ace hotel chain contacted to them to see if they could help lure them to the neighborhood. They decided on a place on Ninth Street, around the corner from the historic Broadway strip.
"We had no interest in West Hollywood, like we have no interest in opening up a shop in Chelsea in New York. For someone coming from New York, it's a nice way of easing into Southern California lifestyle. There's that downtown canyon corridor experience with 100-year-old buildings and converted lofts. And homeless people carrying plasticized mailbox cartons around with bungee cords. It feels like when I moved to New York in '96. But we do love the idea of being in great company. We can have a kooky, funky-looking spot, and finally get the space to build a production facility."
Known for their quirky dipped cones with soft-serve flavors such as Salty Pimp, Petroff says that they plan on developing popsicles and hard-packed ice cream in their new facilities. Plus, the ability to get fresh produce will expand their options for fresh ingredients for seasonal flavors.
They already have at least one fan: Actress Dana Delany, who they first met when they catered her television film crew in 2012, and with whom they've remained friends. She visited the site of the new shop and jokingly presented them with a keepsake pineapple (a discarded item from the previous tenant of the shop, Petroff explained) as a welcome gift. It also happened to be Petroff's birthday.
"The whole point of our business was to have fun, to be like a kid in a candy store," Petroff said.
The duo have a book due out in late spring of 2015 and Petroff is already hinting at the fact that there will be a third location opening in New York, along with another L.A. outpost. "By the summer of by the summer of 2015, when we have five to six stores on two coasts, it'll be the Big Gay Takeover. Everyone will get their toaster, as Ellen says. Or maybe now we're doing immersion blenders."