Local-boy Kyle Billig claims to have always been an entrepreneur. Whether it was shoveling snow for pay, or delivering homemade challah to friends and neighbors during Jewish holidays, Billig was always keeping busy. And as a 19 year old freshman in college, he's as busy as ever, studying business at Arizona State University while simultaneously opening Philly's first-ever Thai rolled ice cream shop, Sweet Charlie's, at 711 Walnut Street.
The frozen treat craze already took New York by storm, block-long lines forming at 10Below's doors just for a taste of the insta-ice cream commonly found on the streets of Thailand. The process is fascinating:
A few years ago, Billig stumbled upon a video of Thai ice cream being made online, and after some quick research, found that it hadn't made its way to the U.S. yet — an intriguing notion for an entrepreneurial spirit. It wasn't until he saw its popularity in New York that he decided to make something of the opportunity here in Philly, not to mention he was admittedly bored and needed something to do that summer before college.
So he bought a piece of granite, froze it with dry ice, and after some trial and error, came to the conclusion that the slab needed to be colder. Eventually he found a factory overseas that made the right type of "plate" to build his ice cream upon. All ice cream is made to-order, meaning no tubs of ice cream laced with preservatives, stabilizers, and emulsifiers, not even a freezer in the shop — just an insanely cold plate, two scrapers, milk, and toppings.
Sometime this May, Sweet Charlie's (named after the family dog) will open in Washington Square, and all the while, Billig will transfer his credits to some Philly business school where he'll continue his collegiate career whilst operating, with his brother Jacob, Philly's first rolled ice cream shop.
Hours will go from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and an hour later on weekends. Here's the tentative menu:
For your back pocket: remember, Sweet Charlie's is absolutely a scalable operation.