FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – If you’ve spent a day in Fort Myers Beach, you’ve probably seen the crew pushing the ice cream carts along the coast.
They work for a company called Pedals Ice Cream.
“We used to pedal the bike, but now we push it,” said company owner David Rosenzweig.
You can usually hear them before you see them. Their bells and loud voices are louder than the waves breaking along the shore.
They were wiped out by Hurricane Ian, which destroyed their freezers, ice cream and all but one of their carts. Despite all of this, their plan is to rebuild and be back on the beach.
“Ice water, bananas, ice cream,” Rosenzweig shouted. “Grandma just made meatloaf ice cream that has real meatloaf in it. But it was only a joke of course, and they laugh.
When NBC2 interviewed him, Rosenzweig was standing in his destroyed and now gutted store along San Carlos Boulevard on San Carlos Island.
It’s not the treats that keep him going, but rather the smiles and the young faces that light up like a Christmas tree when they see him coming.
“Mom! Mom! See! The ice cream parlor is coming,” he said. “I love him. It’s good.”
Rosenzweig has worked on the sand selling ice cream for 42 years. His business grew from a single cart to five carts and a handful of employees.
“It’s part of me now. That’s all I know.
It might be the feeling of making a young child’s day, or maybe their personalized ice cream appeal, but there’s something infectious about it.
“Ice cream! Popsicles! Sno-cones,” yelled manager William Dalbora.
Dalbora was the manager for years, but now he’s out of a job.
“My income is at risk and I’m working other jobs now to make ends meet,” he said.
Storm surge from Hurricane Ian flooded their store with six feet of water, leaving them with nothing.
“We clean it up and start over,” Rosenzweig said.
Even after four decades in the business, David, now 65, is not ready to throw in the towel. After all, he tells NBC2’s Gage Goulding that he’s the only one with a license to sell on the beach.
“I do what I can to survive it. I want it to last,” he said.
Although it may take a year or two before its ice cream team is back along the coast, once this beach is open again, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be there with bells.