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Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream offers fast, customizable frozen desserts

The Miami-based chain makes super-smooth treats with the help of science


Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is a 15-unit frozen dessert chain based in Miami, with six company-owned restaurants in South Florida and 10 franchises in Florida, Nashville, and the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio. A 16th location is slated to open this month in Bluffton, S.C.

It was co-founded in 2012 by Daniel Golik, who comes from an entrepreneurial family and who has a scientific background. He was supposed to go to medical school after graduating from college, but instead he and a friend had seen people make ice cream using liquid nitrogen, a super-cold product that freezes anything it touches quickly. In the case of ice cream and other frozen desserts, that super-fast freezing results in a very smooth product, because the faster something freezes, the less time large crystals have to form. Tiny crystals mean smooth texture.

After toying around with liquid nitrogen — a surprisingly affordable product, as it turns out — and ice cream base in a garage for a while, Golik ended up opening the first Chill-N Nitrogen location in the Miami suburb of Pinecrest.

“It did really well,” Golik said. “We learned a lot — how to set up a store, what we could improve.”

The customer response was good enough — on busy nights they serve 120 people per hour — that a little more than a year later he and his team opened a second location, in Aventura, Fla., and soon more locations followed, with Golik continuing to refine the process, developing better techniques for faster and more precise creation of his desserts. Besides making ice cream, Chill-N Nitrogen also offers desserts made with sweet or tart yogurt, coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk. The base is mixed with whatever flavors the customers want, including chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, but also options such as peanut butter, mint, Nutella, and Key lime pie. Then it’s frozen with liquid nitrogen and finished with mix-ins such as brownies, granola, gummy bears, berries, and some 30 other options.

In 2019, Golik hired David Leonardo as CEO, who spearheaded the chain’s franchising process.

Meanwhile, Golik continued to refine production so that customers’ choices could be programmed into the equipment and produced quickly by team members.

“We’ve gone through several iterations of the nitrogen computers, the mixers, the valves … all of that has been an ongoing thing since we started,” Golik said. “I think we’re on, like, version 4.2. That’s definitely been a fun aspect.”

Leonardo said they’re investing in technology to allow for a time when team members can type in an order and the base is poured directly into a bowl, flavor is added, and the automated mixer precisely adds the nitrogen and blends it all together.

“There’s a lot of room for variability, and you want to reduce that,” he said.

Science is a cornerstone of the chain’s marketing — the menu is designed to resemble the periodic table of elements — although over the years the concept’s original laboratory look has been toned down with lighter colors and better seating, even though customers typically don’t spend more than 15 minutes there as they wait for their orders to be prepared.

The desserts are priced starting at around $6-$8. Pints are $10-$11.

In terms of expansion, Leonardo plans to open new restaurants, mostly franchised, in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, although he said he’s open to considering other places, such as Bluffton, S.C., for franchisees who are a good fit.

Vote for Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream in the NRN Dessert Showdown on Instagram or LinkedIn.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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