Meet Orient’s 19-year-old ice cream parlor owner

06/17/2012 7:00 AM |

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Rosy Brown prepares a cone of one of the Idle Hour’s most popular flavors, mint chocolate chip.

The ice cream parlor on Village Lane in Orient is opening under an old name, but there’s someone new behind the counter.

You’ll find 19-year-old Rosy Brown behind the counter at The Idle Hour and, when it comes to ice cream, she means business.

Ms. Brown, who set up shop two weeks ago, is the latest youthful injection for Village Lane since 20-somethings Miriam Foster and Grayson Murphy took over the Orient Country Store last year.

Opening The Idle Hour ice cream parlor has been a “little kid dream come true,” Ms. Brown said, but it hasn’t been all peaches and cream.

“It’s been a really crazy experience,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes into starting a business that you’d never think about, like all the different permits and classes you have to take. It’s much more involved than I ever would have expected it would be. I’ve had to contact distributors, find someone to give me cones. It’s a lot of talking to people and working out deals.”

The teenage entrepreneur grew up in Manhattan and summered in Orient from the time she was 8 years old until this past year.

“When I graduated from high school last year, I took a year off,” she said. “It was amazing. I’ve really valued having the time off and the break from real life.”

During her “gap year,” Ms. Brown interned at the food magazine Bon Appetit. She also traveled to Tanzania, India and Africa to work at orphanages.

At her shop, Ms. Brown also plans to sell T-shirts designed by local artists, with all proceeds to benefit needy children in India. The current design says “I SCREAM” in chocolate-colored lettering.

“I wanted to do something to give back to the orphanage and I figured if I’m going to have a business, it would be silly not to give back in some way,” she said. “I’m a teenager, so I don’t have a lot of money of my own, but if I have a way of making it, then why not?”

Alongside the ice cream and T-shirts, she sells hand-sewn items from India such as aprons, kids’ beach clothes and hand towels she made when she was in that country.

“I had decided before I left to travel that I would be opening the ice cream shop, so I got these things made at a small factory in India using vegetable dyes,” she said. “I like knowing where they came from, who made them and forming the relationships with the people that I did.”

This fall, Ms. Brown will attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She said she doesn’t know what she’ll major in yet but is leaning toward business or international relations as possibilities. While she’s away at school, she will close the ice cream parlor for the season.

“I’m really passionate about food, ice cream included, so this was sort of a natural progression,” she said. “When I interned at Bon Appetit I started learning about different organic ice cream companies and that’s where everything actually started. I wanted to serve organic ice cream.”

Ms. Brown stocks Hershey’s as well as organic ice cream from the Blue Marble ice cream company.

“I personally like eating organic and locally as much as I possibly can, and it seems a lot of people are becoming more concerned about what they’re eating and putting in their bodies, so I thought it would make sense out here,” she said. “Originally I was going to go all organic, but I realized it would make more sense to have options for everyone. I have the space, so why not?”

Ms. Brown said she started discussions with Blue Marble in January after researching several organic ice cream companies. She chose the Brooklyn-based company because she admired their business model.

“The dairy, sugar, flavoring, fruit and chocolate are all organic,” she said. “Also, there’s no corn syrup used. That’s a very big deal for something like ice cream and you can really taste the difference. People are skeptical at first, but when they taste it, you can see the surprise on their face over how good it is.”

When it comes to flavors, Ms. Brown said mint chip, cappuccino crunch and organic cinnamon are the most popular, though for kids the top choice is cotton candy.

“I’ve gone through so much cotton candy ice cream, it’s unbelievable,” she said.

Ms. Brown chose The Idle Hour after the sellers told her that was one of the shop’s previous names. The other names she was toying with “didn’t quite fit,” she said. Last year the shop was called Nina’s after the operator, Nina Caufield, who ran the shop during her college summer break.

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