Ask Austin Crittenden what spawned the Scoop N Scootery and he will likely say: “It was hot and I wanted ice cream.” The thought process was simple. Actually launching the ice cream sundae delivery service, however, proved to be a more complicated challenge.
Crittenden was a junior at Tufts University when he decided to start the company. It was the summer of 2012; he was interning and living with two of his best friends in a fraternity house. Why not try delivering ice cream?
“We went about it in a backwards direction,” Crittenden says. “Some people spend years getting permits, writing the business plan, and raising the funds. We’re crazy. I said, ‘What are you doing right now?’”
Crittenden created “a silly little website” and bought some freezers for the fraternity house—and enough Garelick Farms ice cream to feed anyone who saw their mysterious advertisement for “ice cream delivery.”
Six customers called the day that the Scoop N Scootery opened, but their ice cream arrived in “miserable shape.” Crittenden packed the sundaes in a cooler with ice and delivered them on his motorcycle.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” he admits. “But we had so much fun.”
They tried delivering the ice cream in cones, before even thinking of adding the hand-chopped candy, fresh fruit, or homemade whipped cream that customers can order on their sundaes today. Still a mess, Crittenden taught himself how to condition ice cream, learning the temperatures required for storage and delivery.
“I basically learned it all backwards,” he says. “But if I started off with the red tape, I never would have done it.”
With the process—and ice cream—more solidified, the Scoop N Scootery started giving customers the ability to order customized sundaes, which they made in an unoccupied room of Crittenden’s fraternity house. The company started receiving 25 orders a day. “It was way too much.”
After three months, Crittenden put the company on hold so he could get his college degree—and the proper licenses and permits to make the Scoop N Scootery a viable business. He drafted a business plan, recruited his best friend from home Sean Sally to relaunch the company, and worked with the City of Somerville and Somerville Health Department to bring a food truck to the corner of College and Talbot Avenue near Tufts University and 551 Broadway Street at Trum Field.
“I had no plans for the food truck,” Crittenden says. “I needed the cheapest way to get a legal site that I could make and deliver sundaes from. I had never even thought about catering.”
But within a week of the company’s June 2014 reopening, catering requests started pouring in. The Scoop N Scootery started showing up to area businesses dishing out “fancy, fancy sundaes,” like “Phantomberry,” made with Richardson’s black raspberry ice cream with a cookie crunch swirl and fudge brownie pieces, and topped with graham cracker bits, fresh blueberries, white chocolate chips, and homemade whipped cream.
Catering has forced the team to learn how to mass-produce sundaes. For events of more than 100 people, they will pre-scoop the ice cream, but hold the toppings, because they buy their fruit fresh every day.
“It takes about 20 seconds to make the average sundae,” Crittenden says. “We are insanely fast. We have to be these days. … We don’t compromise our sundaes for anything.”
And that includes local delivery. Customers located within a two-mile radius of the Scoop N Scootery, who order up to $10 worth of ice cream, can place an order and have their sundaes delivered to their doorstep. The radius extends as far as Magnolia Street in Arlington, Garden Street in Cambridge, Michigan Avenue in Somerville, and Revere Beach Parkway in Medford.
“It’s pretty extensive, in my opinion,” Crittenden says, referring to the radius. But he would like to see it expand. The only way to do that, however, is by opening a storefront. “It’s challenging to maintain a long delivery distance with a $10 delivery minimum.”
Three drivers currently deliver roughly 220 sundaes on the daily, each made in the Scoop N Scootery truck by Crittenden and Sally. If they were to open a storefront, Crittenden expects they could extend the radius another mile, hire two additional drivers, bring on a team of sundae builders, and produce an extra 400 sundaes per day.
“One of the problems with our business is that Sean and I work 15 hours every day, every single hour that we’re open. There’s no one else in the truck,” Crittenden says.
Because of that, the Scoop N Scootery schedule can be erratic—a fact not gone unnoticed by customers. Crittenden claims they have received “aggressive emails” when they are closed, but that he and Sally are “trying our best to be open as much as we can.”
When asked if he is worried about on-demand services like Postmates, which delivers everything from groceries to office supplies, his tone doesn’t change.
“They may deliver Ben & Jerry’s and carton-based ice cream, but I don’t consider that product the same as ours,” Crittenden says. “[Ours is] a gourmet dessert. What’s cool about that also makes it difficult to deliver, because it’s all handmade specifically for you.”
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