After Being Jailed for Drug Possession, Michael “Mikey” Cole Turns his Life Around and Now Sells Hip-Hop Flavored Ice Cream

Michael “Mikey” Cole  COURTESY OF MIKEY LIKES IT
Michael “Mikey” Cole
COURTESY OF MIKEY LIKES IT

The East Village neighborhood in New York City is chock-full of small bars and nightclubs that are destinations for people from far and wide, so it’s never a surprise to see a crowd spilling onto the sidewalk.

Yet, the crowd at Mikey Likes It isn’t there for alcoholic beverages or the scene. They’re there for ice cream. Michael Cole, aka Mikey, is making some of the most-in-demand ice cream, even in an era when independent, artisanal ice cream parlors are all the rage.

Cole has won over the skeptics—it’s New York City, so everyone is a skeptic—with flavors like Pretty in Pink, a strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries, balsamic vinegar and just a hint of pepper. His Mint Condition is mint ice cream with chunks of triple-chocolate brownies and his Cool Running is coconut ice cream with shavings of dark chocolate and roasted almonds. One of Cole’s biggest innovations is his waffle ice cream sandwiches, which pack a big helping of ice cream between two waffles made from scratch.

His ice cream is sold well beyond his cozy little shop; for instance, his D’Usse de Leche—a spin on dolce de leche and made with the Jay Z-endorsed D’Usse cognac—is sold at Jay Z’s 40/40 sports bar in Manhattan.

“If Ben and Jerry grew up in the Lower East Side when I did, this is what they’d be doing,” Cole says, reclining in his chair at a biscuit-sandwich place across the street from his parlor.

Yes, Cole, who is 36, really is from around the way. And his shop reflects that he came of age duringhip-hop’s golden era—the store is filled with clocks festooned with faces of old-school R&B and hip-hop stars and his ice cream flavors have names that will take you back.

He grew up just down the street from his current business, and he has had both legal and illegal businesses before becoming one of New York’s fastest up-and-coming ice cream makers, putting his shop in the same company as Big Gay Ice Cream and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream.

He was a partner in a sneaker store called Sole Food. Before that, he was one of the neighborhood weed dealers, but an arrest and six months’ incarceration for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, changed his mind about that pursuit. Also a few years ago, when his mother was gravely ill, she asked him to promise not to get locked up again. Cole took her dying wish to heart.

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Source: The Root | 

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