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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Not your typical ice cream truck

Peculiar flavor combinations aren’t the most unusual part of Igloo Rolls. Western alumni Zach Ortega and Brian Haug created their pop-up business to bring Thai ice cream rolls to the Seattle area.

Instead of offering a typical ice cream scoop, Igloo Rolls is mixing heavy cream with flavors like basil and lemon before laying it out on a chilled surface and rolling it up to be served.

Ortega saw the lack of rolled ice cream businesses in the Pacific Northwest and thought it was a good idea. “With both my brother and I being foodies and myself being an entrepreneur, we decided to go for it and see where it takes us,” Ortega said.

Customers can witness the atypical process after they choose their flavor. The rolls are handmade directly in front of them and is quite the show.

“We’re selling more of a food experience rather than a product.”

Brian Haug

“That’s the experience we want to offer with our food truck. You order your ice cream, flavors and toppings and watch it get made and rolled up right in front of you,” Haug said. “We’re selling more of a food experience rather than a product.”

Ortega and his brother Cameron began their interest in the world of Thai ice cream through videos on social media. Starting the business was a learning process, Ortega said. After discovering the large amount of paperwork and legal aspects of owning a small business, Orgeta invited Haug to join.

Ortega is Igloo Rolls’ CEO and handles general operations, Haug is in charge of marketing and Cameron creates the menu and various flavors the company sells.

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Igloo Rolls’ official truck that travels throughout the Seattle area. // Photo courtesy of Brian Haug

The team utilizes social media to spread the word about their food truck, using Instagram and Facebook. Igloo Rolls has completed two large events in the greater Seattle area and just got their own food truck last month, Haug said. 

With a new truck in hand, the two hope to create a Thai ice cream trend throughout Washington.

The company’s honorary taste tester and friend of the Ortega brothers, Andrew Teimouri, witnessed the amount of time put into perfecting the unusual flavors.

According to their menu, some of Igloo Roll’s more unusual flavors include horchata, PB & J and vegan pina colada.

“They are very unique,” Teimouri said. He particularly likes the way Igloo Rolls incorporates a mix of fresh fruit and sometimes even candy to create odd flavor mixes.

From living with the Ortega brothers and seeing the flavors being created, Teimouri said it is great seeing all the events the company is doing. Teimouri said the audience’s response to the rolling method and the flavors has been amazing.

“It’s pretty damn inspiring [to watch] as a friend,” Teimouri said.

Mary Bruemmer, Ortega’s mother, has watched Igloo Rolls grow over the past months and is happy to see it become successful.

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The “S’mores” rolled ice cream consisting of marshmallow, fudge and graham cracker by Igloo Rolls. // Photo courtesy of Brian Haug

“Zach has been wanting to start a business since he went to Western, or even before, and I thought it sounded like a good idea,” Bruemmer said.

Bruemmer said she can see her son’s business expanding past Washington and down the West Coast, since the public reaction has been so positive.

“I’ve watched [events] and people think it is a really neat idea. It was cool to see how excited the customers were,” Bruemmer said.

In terms of expansion, Haug said their next step is to tackle the eastern side of Washington state.

“We are a mobile food truck, so we’re not stuck to the typical brick and mortar of one location,” Haug said. 

Before expansion, the two must first tackle the challenges of growing their business within the Seattle area.

Ortega said funding was difficult in the beginning since they had little income right out of college. They now have a food truck and a cart, so Igloo Rolls can be two places at once.

Once further established, the two plan to revisit their alma mater and serve the Bellingham community. They hope to purchase a new food truck in time for summer, which they believe might be their busiest time.

“Going to Western and getting the background in not just marketing, but business in general, gave me the confidence to really go for it,” Ortega said.  “You only live life once and it’s short. Why not go for it?”

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