On the Menu: Chill out this summer at Pacific Beach Ice Cream Co.
When you enter the quaint, cheery ice cream shop at the corner of Grand Avenue and Cass Street your olfactory seems to be playing tricks on you as a homey aroma of baked goodies and warm spices permeates the air.
Dave Wright, owner/operator of the fledgling Pacific Beach Ice Cream Co., said he enjoys adding personal touches to the fun eating experience “that sets him above the giant corporate ice cream chains.”
Starting with the aromatic waffle cones that he bakes fresh daily, the whipped cream he makes in-house, the collection of vintage ice cream scoops accessorizing the walls and the giant surf board slugged with the ice cream flavors that hangs behind the register there is plenty of ambiance.
This is his first foray in the frozen treat biz after Wright lickety split from the rocky road of stand-up comedy to the smooth and silky life as an artisan ice cream meister. That’s no joke!
Back in 2018, Wright received an intensive ice cream tutelage from his parents, who own an award-winning shop in Nevada City, California. They taught him the ropes about ice cream making and churning out a solid business plan.
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Pacific Beach Ice Cream Co.
Address: 1010 Grand Ave. in Pacific Beach
Hours: 1 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 1 to 10 p.m. Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 9 p.m. Sundays and closed Mondays.
In 2020, Wright also graduated from the Scoop School in Chesterfield, Missouri, where he earned credentials in ice cream crafting and business operations.
Thanks to all that hard work, and the summer heating up, along with creative flavors, fine quality ingredients, attention to detail and a mighty plug by Megan Elise Varela, a TikTok influencer Wright met at the Scoop Ice Cream Festival in North Park this past June, “business has tripled since the beginning of the year.”
PB locals, tourists and other San Diego denizens stand in line for a scoop (or two, or three) of Wright’s small batch, handcrafted frozen delights, “embracing the concept that my father started, and that I’m carrying on to bring back the classic flavors before corporations got a hold of them,” he said.
Some popular flavors include his dad’s famous Mint Chip that pairs farm fresh spearmint with dark chocolate flakes; Julian Dutch Apple Pie, which incorporates an entire pie into a sweet cream base; Skrewball Whiskey; Peanut Butter Cookie; Chocolate Covered Strawberry; Sassy Root Beer “that resembles an old-fashioned root beer float without the float,” and Saffron Rose Pistachio. He said the latter is “one of the most expensive ice creams to craft,” blending threads of Spanish saffron, rose water and chunks of pistachios.
Wright waxes poetic when he details the indulgent experience: “The first flavor that hits the palate is the floral essence of rose water, then the woodiness of pistachio and finishes with the unique flavor that can only be described as saffron.”
Along with his regular flavors, the ice cream maker alternates with seasonal ones like Basil, Alesmith Speedway Stout Beer with a gingerbread essence, Spicy Mango with a dash of cayenne and Kahlua Espresso Martini with ribbons of tiramisu, a collaboration with the head chef at the Flamingo Deck bar in PB.
Wright also creates a different interpretation of Cookie Dough every month like Oreo, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Red Velvet Cookie and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut to keep things exciting.
“We make one of the best Oreo ice creams,” Wright boasts. “The concept of adding chunks of stuff to vanilla ice cream is lazy, so I first whip up a base using the ingredients, then add chunks of the ingredient back into the base.”
The ice cream parlor also offers dairy-free options made from coconut cream with such seasonal flavors as Chai, Lavender, Peanut Butter and Coconut with coconut flakes.
But there’s more.
Growing up on the East Coast, living just 30 minutes south of Philly, Wright nostalgically recalls people lining up for blocks on a summer day for a cup of Italian ice called “water ice,” which sounded like “wooder ice” with the dialect, Wright said. He has transported this “perfect summer time, dairy-free frozen treat that resembles sorbet” to beachy San Diego.
“(It’s) simply a blend of fruit, sugar, water and a little bit of magic,” Wright said.
He rotates the flavors depending on the seasonal fruits available at the Pacific Beach Farmer’s Market, but some faves include Eureka Lemon Ice with chunks of lemon rind, Blood Orange, Dark Cherry and a grassy and refreshing Butterfly Pea Flour from Thailand with a lychee fruit base.
Serving sizes come in kid’s scoop, single scoop, split scoop with two flavors and double scoop, which can also be two flavors in a zippy sugar cone, crunchy cake cone, homemade waffle cone or a cup. Topping lovers can indulge in fudge or caramel sauce, Mexican cocoa powder, traditional candies, gummies and chocolate sprinkles or rainbow “jimmies” free for kids. There are also Sundaes and Tuesdaes, the latter a kiddie version with sauce, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
The ice cream innovator has even concocted a specialty flavor for your sweet-toothed furry friends in collaboration with Noah’s Natural Pet Market. The doggie ice cream treat combines gut-friendly raw goat milk with unsalted peanut butter, avocado pulp and pasteurized egg yolks, good for a glossy coat.
Customers can enjoy the many frozen delights on ocean breezy sidewalk benches along the front walkway of the shop, or grab and go with a pre-packed pint.
Wright, a champion of the small business owner, also uses only local and California purveyors for his mint, dairy, sugar and other ingredients. He’s on a mission to bolster mom-and-pops against corporate behemoths, and become “the neighborhood ice cream shop so customers feel genuinely welcomed, and enjoy the experience that is woven deeply into the fabric of our culture.”
Paying homage to Dave Wright’s comedic prowess, here’s one more joke for the road:
“Why do ice cream cones carry umbrellas on dull days?”
“In case it sprinkles!”
And that’s the whole scoop!
Recipe from Pacific Beach Ice Cream Co.
Fresh whipped cream
2 C. heavy whipping cream
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1 T. powdered sugar
Sprinkling of cinnamon, ginger powder or any other desired spice (optional)
In the bowl of an electric mixture whip until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate.
— Courtesy of Dave Wright