I•CE•NY brings trend of ‘rolled ice cream’ to Briarwood Mall


Bess Markel

I•CE•NY, which sells “rolled ice cream,” recently opened at Briarwood Mall. The ice cream style was developed by a business in Thailand in 2011 and has become popular worldwide.

On Feb. 2, I•CE•NY opened in Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall. Crafting “original smashed and rolled ice cream fresh right in front of you,” it stands as one of the few “rolled ice cream” shops in Michigan.

Rolled ice cream can arguably be classified as a popular trend on social media. Rolled ice cream separates itself from traditional ice cream in that, like its name suggests, it comes in the form of ice cream sheets rolled up. I•CE•NY “roller” Sonaal Verma, a student at Greenhills, believes the large attraction to be in part due to its satisfying peculiarity.

“You see it all over Instagram because it’s got this aesthetic that pleases people and makes them want to get in on it,” he said.

The process starts from the batters, ranging from chocolate to green pea to mango, and to the most common one, sweet vanilla cream. The customer picks the different toppings and mixes. “Then, that big frozen plate is where the magic happens,” Verma says. Using sharp metal paddles, everything gets mixed and broken down on the plate, eventually spread out into a very thin sheet. This allows for the cream to harden, which then can be scraped into the signature neat rolls.

“The texture you get from this style of ice cream is what makes it so different and special,” Verma says. “The place is really new so our business has been soaring lately.”

Verma says he regularly deals with lines up to 15 or 20 customers. “Business was so good that working felt so chaotic in the beginning. But after a little bit we’ve gotten used to the pace and the process, so it’s become a lot easier,” Verma said.

The sweet delights world is often dictated by trends. “A couple years ago it was frozen yogurt. Now it’s this,” says Verma

Location can be quite a major factor in a store’s success, and Briarwood seems to be helping I•CE•NY more often than not. According to Verma, the constant feed of people inside the mall provides plenty of business to the attraction.

“A lot of people might walk over just to watch us roll the ice cream. This brings in people who weren’t planning on buying anything to buying something,” he said.

It has become quite the attraction at the mall for people to stop by and watch the process of scraping and rolling the ice cream. “I guess it’s interesting for people to watch because its an unconventional preparation style right before you. Kind of like why hibachis are so entertaining,” Verma says, comparing the cold plate preparation to the hot skillet preparations in Japanese steakhouses. “I mean I find it really satisfying, too, to watch the ice cream harden right as they’re rolled up neatly.”

And like his customers, Verma has a favorite flavor. “I always like the top mine off with a toasted marshmallow at the end,” he says, pointing to the wide assortment of toppings.