Summer is here and no ‘rona is gonna stop hot days from heating up. I can’t say whether our collective desire to socialize publicly despite the apparent health risks is a testament to our indifference or our endurance. Nevertheless, it’s important to find ways of maintaining some sense of normalcy, albeit with a level of responsibility and respect to the times.
In the spirit of maintaining that, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lemeir Mitchell, brainchild of popular Melrose Ave. chillzone Happy Ice. Following a wildly successful opening of his first brick & mortar location, during a maelstrom of social unrest and the corona-demic, Lemeir and I talked about his humble beginnings.
Originally from Philadelphia, the imprisonment of his Father sent Mitchell into a phase of youthful recklessness. One which led his concerned uncle Joey to step in as a support system to help him build self confidence. Looking for a fresh start, Mitchell moved to Los Angeles following the passing of his brother. One of 13 siblings, he is no stranger to hard work, as he spent many nights sleeping at his then job at the time, a tattoo parlor.
One day, he saw an ice cream truck driving around Melrose and was impressed by the visual aesthetic. It was an inspiring and fresh way to approach the traditional ice cream truck. Noticing an opportunity to bring a bit of his hometown to Los Angeles, Mitchell, along with the help of his wife, mother, and many restless nights, created Happy Ice.
Mitchell wanted to introduce Angelinos to one of his hometown’s most popular staples, Philadelphia water ice, one that he says is just as important there as the world famous Philly Cheesesteak. Curiously discovering a way to achieve the same scoop each time, Lemeir credits his “perfect scoop” technique as a main factor to Happy Ice’s instagram following. A visit to their Instagram page is akin to feeling like a kid again, with the colorful allure perfectly suited to social virality.
As for the treat itself, Philadelphia water ice is definitely unique. It blends the creaminess of ice cream with the refreshing ease of shaved ice combined with sorbet-esque flavors. Happy Ice has no dairy, nut products, and uses natural flavors. In other words, it’s everybody-friendly. This inclusive treat stands juxtaposed to the protests which raged around Melrose Avenue, threatening to interfere with the grand opening of Happy Ice’s brick and mortar. A moment after which, the settled dust revealed a landscape of destroyed business fronts and property.
Miraculously, Happy Ice made it through unscathed. As a business owner, Mitchell’s plea to the frustrated masses marching through Melrose was punctuated by a photo of him with the words “Black Owned.” His commitment to the community is rooted in wanting to inspire not only Black business owners but anyone who has a dream. During the recent protests, the Happy Ice squad gave out free cups, hoping to offer a momentary respite from the harrowing moment. This community involvement has been a pillar of Happy Ice’s mission from its inception and continues today.
As the tug of war between the pre-corona and post-corona world persists, Happy Ice continues to serve the community, standing as an example of small-business perseverance. This is the spirit with which every cup of Happy Ice is infused and one Mitchell hopes to pass on in every scoop.
To get your hands on a cup of happiness, stop by Happy Ice on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles or follow their Instagram page to find out where their roving trucks will be pulling up next.