Whoever thinks frozen treats can only be enjoyed when it’s hot outside has clearly never tried Jeremiah’s Italian Ice. With 24 flavors that change daily and can be layered with chocolate or vanilla soft-serve ice cream, it would take all year just to try every combination on the menu.
Plus, who has that much self-control anyway?
“If you wanted to only eat it during the summertime…good luck,” owner Andy Hunter said. “I couldn’t do that. It’s very challenging.”
Hunter recently opened Jeremiah’s at 3501 Matthews-Mint Hill Road with his wife, sisters and parents. The restaurant, which fronts the roundabout connecting Matthews to Mint Hill, has a drive-thru window as well as indoor and outdoor seating.
The location is the first in the Carolinas, but the brand has been around since 1996.
The idea for Jeremiah’s came from Jeremy Litwack when he was a high school student selling “water ice” on the streets of Philadelphia. After college, he started a thriving pushcart and ice cream truck enterprise that has since turned into dozens of restaurants in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Georgia and now North Carolina.
“They just have a cult following,” Hunter said.
Hunter said what sets Jeremiah’s apart from other Italian ice brands is the recipe. He called Litwack a “mad scientist” who has been perfecting his technique for combining fresh fruit, fruit puree, filtered water and sugar into a cold, refreshing treat for nearly 25 years.
“That’s where the magic is,” Hunter said.
Jeremiah’s offers 24 daily flavors of Italian ice ranging from peach to cookie butter to black raspberry and a customer favorite called “Scoop Froggy Frog” (mint chocolate chip). There will be seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie, gingerbread and candy cane launching soon.
Customers can also order soft-serve ice cream in vanilla, chocolate or swirl alone or layer it with an Italian ice flavor to create gelati. Hunter said the most popular gelati combinations are mango and vanilla, cookies & cream with vanilla and “P-Nutty” and chocolate.
Hunter’s go-to order is horchata and vanilla gelati – a twist on a traditional Latin American beverage with vanilla and cinnamon flavors, layered with vanilla ice cream. He also likes strawberry lemon Italian ice.
“There are still some flavors I haven’t tried yet,” Hunter said. “The combinations are virtually limitless.”
Jeremiah’s gives free “pup cups” to dogs and also has a loyalty app so frequent customers can rack up rewards. Jeremiah’s J-List Rewards offers members-only discounts, free frozen treats and the ability to earn points on purchases. App users also have access to a secret menu with fancy flavor combinations.
The Matthews restaurant has only been open for a few weeks, but Hunter said he’s already seeing a positive response from the community. He hopes Jeremiah’s upbeat, family-friendly atmosphere continues to be a “bright spot of normalcy.”
“It’s nice to bring something that’s fun and vibrant during a time when there’s not much of that,” Hunter said.
Want to go?
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 3501 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Matthews. Visit www.jeremiahsice.com/locations/matthews-nc or follow on Facebook for a list of daily flavors.