Q: So how did you come to the North Fork? A: My wife grew up in Mattituck; we came out east regularly because of my wife’s roots.
Q: How did you get into the ice cream business?
A: I was laid off from my old job in Three Village school district, and I’d always wanted to own my own business. One visit out here we found out the Magic Fountain was for sale, and bought it.
We closed on the business in March, 2007.
Q: What do you love about being in the ice cream business?
A: I love to play with the ice cream, create new flavors, work with my hands. We have two hundred flavors, 97% of which were created here in the last seven years.
Q: Do you have a favorite flavor?
A: Pistachio used to be my favorite, but I developed a nut allergy. I taste all the batches of ice cream so I still taste it but I can’t eat it like I did. I taste too many flavors every day to have a favorite.
Q: The Magic Fountain is an old business, isn’t it?
A: Magic Fountain—this building was opened as a Dairy Queen in 1966. In 1977 the owner joined with some other Dairy Queen franchisees and split off into a separate company—the Magic Fountain. Later each Magic Fountain went its own way. What’s never changed is our commitment to top quality ice cream.
Q: I love your ice cream, and I’m an ice cream snob—in the supermarket I avoid the flavors that have ingredients that don’t make sense to me like carrageen. Can I ask what your basic recipe is?
A: Our basic recipe is dairy; depending on the flavor, we use between 12 and 16% butterfat. For comparison, ice milk is 5%. Our butterfat is why we don’t have to add any thickeners like carrageenan.
We also don’t add eggs or gluten, because of allergies and our consumers’ preferences.
Q: There’s gluten in some ice cream?
A: Some mixes use gluten because it makes ice cream thicker and heavier, Again, we don’t use it because so many people want to be gluten free.
Q: You sound quite expert about ice cream. Did you know anything about ice cream before you bought The Magic Fountain?
A: I learned the ice cream business when I bought it. I’d had retail experience but nothing about ice cream. The guy I bought it from taught me how to make ice cream.
Q: Is your businesses connected to the North Fork in any way besides being physically located here?
A: Oh yes. I use local berries, fruit, vegetables—strawberries, peaches, raspberries, cucumbers, zucchinis—whatever I can. I wish there was a local dairy I could use, but there aren’t at the scale I need.
For example I put about 40-50 oz of goat cheese in one bucket of goat cheese ice cream; with the artisanal cheeses here I’d have to charge like $10 a serving which just doesn’t make sense.
Local restaurants A Mano and A Lure serve our ice cream, and so does Hellenics Greek restaurant. We use their baklava in our baklava ice cream and they serve that flavor. I’d had baklava many times, but when I met George the owner, I tried his and it was the best thing I’d ever had, so we started making the ice cream.
Q: Zucchini ice cream? I’ll bet the kids don’t order that.
A: No, no kids ordered zucchini. You never can be sure what will take off. One time we made spicy pickle. It was a big hit.
Q: Anything else you’d like to mention about doing business on the North Fork?
A: I love that I get to see the local people every day.
I love the water all around us; I get to see the gorgeous sunrise every morning. It’s a beautiful place to live.