Chinatown Ice Cream Factory gets a scoop of business savvy

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory gets a scoop of business savvy

NEW YORK —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

The buzz about the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a relatively new phenomenon that co-owner Christina Seid is trying to infuse into the 30-year-old shop her father founded. As one of the youngest female business owners in Chinatown, the 27-year-old Seid is branding the ice cream shop in modern, innovative ways that attract sweet teeth from beyond the lower Manhattan neighborhood. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

The Chinatown ice cream parlor—where lychee is the most popular flavor—draws a clientele from all over the city curious to taste the unconventional flavors. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Nearly 50 percent of the shop’s customers are non-Asian, and celebrities including actress Cynthia Nixon are known to stop by for a scoop, Seid said. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Restaurants throughout Manhattan, such as the Noodle Bar and Ginza, order ice cream at wholesale prices from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Phil Seid, Christina Seid’s father, founded the business at 65 Bayard St. in New York as a restaurant with one of his brothers in 1977. He ultimately grew the business into an ice cream shop with another brother, who died in 2004. It was then that Christina Seid decided to join her dad as co-owner of the store. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

As a child, Seid never even considered taking over her dad’s business. Chinese kids generally do not want to take on the $4 dumpling shops or similar small businesses their parents started, as they are not seen as sophisticated or lucrative career choices, Seid said. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

“I always wanted a 9-to-5 job growing up because I understood the struggles of a small business,” she said. “The ‘opportunity’ to own the business seemed more like an ‘obligation’ at the time.” —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

After graduating from the University of Rochester in 2002, Seid attended Queens College and earned her master’s in education. After teaching for a few years while watching the store become increasingly busy in a safer and more popular Chinatown, she joined the family business. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

“When the ice cream business started taking off, it just seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to be involved in the family business while staying active in other nonprofits in the community,” she said. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Running the ice cream store in Chinatown enables Seid to engage her inner entrepreneur. She stores a bag of business magazines behind the freezers in the ice cream shop, which she reads to develop new marketing ideas for the store. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Creating a website in 2004 and blogging about Chinatown are two of the marketing strategies Seid has used to boost business. Customers can read reviews and place orders for T-shirts and ice cream cakes on the website, as well as over the telephone or in person in the store. The website also features photos and press clippings about the shop. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

In addition, Seid uses the website to incorporate ice cream flavor requests from customers into the daily ice cream selection. Flavors like durian, black sesame, egg custard and Zen butter are all new to the store since Seid joined the partnership. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

She says while her dad was originally hesitant to sell the exotic flavors, they are now among some of the most popular. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

Seid also is hoping to boost awareness of the ice cream shop and the neighborhood as a whole with her recently published multicultural children’s book, “Saturdays in Chinatown.” The story is told through the eyes of an 8-year-old Chinese-American kid who lives in the suburbs and explores his heritage on the weekends in Chinatown with his family. The bilingual book that introduces Chinese-speaking and English-speaking readers to the community is Christina Seid’s effort to generate more foot traffic into the community while breaking Asian-American stereotypes. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

“Oftentimes, Asian-Americans are depicted as having slanty eyes, yellow skin and they are exoticized,” Seid said. “This book is just to show people that we are just like everyone else and one of the best ways to stop these stereotypes is at a child’s age.” —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.

As a member of Asian Women in Business and Project by Project, Seid said she has a passion for helping other businesses and causes within the community—and it makes good business sense. If the neighborhood and its businesses languish, the ice cream business melts with them. —Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red T-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired Magazine cover photo in the shop’s yellow dragon tee.