Ice Vending Queen Stakes Out Best Bushwick Corner for Customers
"It's really coconut," the 63-year-old Dominican immigrant said as he slurped his daily fix from the corner stand. "It tastes so good."
But his three-year-old ritual is filled with more than the flavor — the vendor, Fabiola (who declined to give her last name), has become a comforting face to Estebes and many others who make regular visits to her stand.
"She's a good friend to everyone in the neighborhood," Estebes said, on a break from chatting with her about their families.
"She's out here every day, before all the rest," he continued, to explain Fabiola's domination of the most bustling spot in the area, across from the Myrtle-Wyckoff L and J subway stops.
"That's what it takes," she said in Spanish, noting that she's learned to arrive in the mornings at 10 or 11 a.m. even though few customers buy ices until later in the day.
Fabiola, 37, said she moved to Bushwick 17 years ago from rural Ecuador, where she worked planting corn and lettuce. And five years ago, she realized that selling ices were the trick to her livelihood in the city.
Her ice cart is far more lucrative than her coffee stand during the cooler months, noted Fabiola, said claimed she makes $100 daily with the ice cart.
"It's my job," she said of the cart, which she uses to support three young kids. One of her three grown children also helps her manage the shop-on-wheels.
On a recent afternoon neighbors flooded her stand for chocolate, cherry, rainbow-flavored and (most popularly) coconut ices, and many clients said they always choose her stand.
"It's delicious, when I eat an ice I'm 16 all over again," said Estebes, devouring his dessert.