This is part of a summer series spotlighting NYC’s ice cream parlors and other cold treats specialists.
Before David Yoo opened Davey’s Ice Cream in the East Village (on a Friday the 13th in September 2013, proving that superstition wrong), the Parsons School of Design grad worked on graphics and art for streetwear brands. The shift to running an ice cream business may seem like a leap, but it was actually just a different creative outlet for him.
“The idea of ice cream was kind of a joke initially, but I realized back then there wasn’t much of an ice cream scene yet,” Yoo recalls. “It’s funny because being in New York, you think it’s always ahead of the curve, but it was actually kind of behind the curve.”
Once Yoo saw that there was a market for homemade ice cream, he says it was no longer a joke. He set up shop with a focus on quality ingredients — which he sourced locally and still does whenever possible.
“One thing that was always important to me was making sure I always made everything from scratch,” Yoo says. “That was part of the creative process for me. I didn’t want to make ice cream just buying a base from a catalog and adding chocolate. I wanted to make everything, using my own recipes and my own formulas.”
His background comes into play as he develops those recipes. Davey’s has research and development and production teams that Yoo says run a lot like a design studio.
“I see my production managers and R&D person as a design team; they’re like artistic directors helping me develop the ideas I’ve curated. I kind of initiate a sense of direction for what I’m feeling for a particular month or season and they pick it up from there,” he says.
Since the first shop’s opening, Davey’s has added Williamsburg and Greenpoint locations. Davey’s also participates in partnerships and pop-ups, like vending at Governors Ball and creating boozy sorbets for the Peninsula Hotel’s rooftop bar. The collaborations began with an early January 2014 chocolate and cinnamon babka flavor made along with the iconic Moishe’s Bake Shop.
“That was a flavor that put us on the map, back when no one was doing collaborations,” Yoo says. “Whatever shop was there, whatever ice cream they were making, that was it; even the food scene in general, people really were not doing collaborations. That was something I brought in from my fashion background, where everyone was doing collaborations between brands.”
More recently, Davey’s has linked up with Angry Orchard to make a rosé sorbet. Yoo says the next big thing is the rollout this summer of vegan flavors. The shop has also unveiled dog ice cream in Greek yogurt, blueberry, banana, peanut butter and honey flavors. Yoo introduced dog desserts to enhance the community aspect of his shop — in Greenpoint, he’s started a wall of Polaroids of the dogs who come for their ice cream — and loves getting another chance to get to know his customers.
- Davey’s serves 10 staple flavors with two or three seasonal flavors, the same at all three locations.
- The most popular flavors are strong coffee, cookies & cream and speculoos chocolate chip.
- Eschewing crazy topping trends to focus on flavors, Davey’s has classic toppings like sprinkles, peanuts and crumbled cookies.
- There are several seasonal flavors that Davey’s brings back every year due to popular demand, like red velvet Oreo at Valentine’s Day, s’mores in the late summer, and birthday cake and salted chocolate chip cookie at different times.
- Other treats include rich homemade hot chocolate, ice cream cakes at the East Village and Greenpoint locations, pie milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, brownies, coffee, and tea, as well as breakfast pastries in Greenpoint.
- Davey’s Ice Cream is located at 137 First Ave. in the East Village, 201 Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, and 74 Meserole Ave. in Greenpoint. For more info, visit daveysicecream.com.