Upscale Brooklyn-based ice cream shop Van Leeuwen is going even harder on its growth: Before the end of warmer weather, a whopping five new locations will be sprouting across NYC — from a tower in Prospect Heights to the Upper West Side.
The first location of this growth spurt opens today in Nolita at 45 Spring St., and will be open from noon to midnight every day. From there, the now 10-year-old company will add scoop shops on the Upper West Side (448 Amsterdam Ave.), Soho (145 Greene St.), Upper East Side (1625 2nd Ave.), and Prospect Heights (550 Vanderbilt Ave.).
The popular ice cream shop — known for on-point takes of classics like mint chip and strawberry, as well as unique seasonal specials and vegan renditions — has already gotten significantly bigger since its days as a food truck. Currently, seven locations are spread across lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and LA has three outposts, too. The pastel-colored pints are also available for sale in more than 350 stores.
But now, the company is ready for an even bigger push to open retail shops, says co-founder Ben Van Leeuwen. “We’ve spent the last 10 years sort of constantly refining the product, making it better,” he says. He and co-founders Laura O’Neill and Peter Van Leeuwen finally think that they’re at a point where the look, feel, and experience of the stores and ice cream can be duplicated at a bigger level.
Beyond these five stores, they think that NYC could theoretically be home to as many as 40 more shops in the next two years — supported by a kitchen in Greenpoint that makes all the mix-ins and ice cream, Van Leeuwen says. Los Angeles will likely see more outposts as well, though both the number of new locations for both cities will depend on demand.
All the shops will be fairly small, and all of them will be company-owned, versus franchised. Van Leeuwen is considering franchising only for new international locations. “We’re excited by the plan, but always kind of ready to pivot if necessary,” he says.