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Big Gay Ice Cream Shop Brings 'Golden Girls'-Themed Treats to West Village

By Andrea Swalec | December 5, 2012 7:21am

WEST VILLAGE — West Side residents can now feed their need for Bea Arthur-inspired ice cream without going too far from home.

The new 61 Grove St. location of Big Gay Ice Cream Shop opened this week, making it the second outpost for the frozen-treats purveyors, who launched with a food truck and expanded just last fall with an East Village storefront.

Co-owner Bryan Petroff, 40, said the LGBT history of the West Village made it a natural choice for another Downtown spot selling items like the Bea Arthur cone ($4.50), which includes vanilla ice cream, crushed Nilla Wafers and dulce de leche.

"We're at the corner of gay and gayer," he joked Tuesday.

The 900-square-foot West Village shop location will serve favorites including the Rue McClanahan ice cream sandwich, named for another "The Golden Girls" actress, which consists of bourbon-flavored ice cream between pecan praline cookies. A cone called the Salty Pimp ($5), which is made from vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and chocolate, is also on the menu.

"The Salty Pimp is far and away our most popular item," Petroff said.

Ice cream toppings ($1 each) include Awesome Sauce spicy chocolate topping, Maker's Mark Bourbon Butterscotch, and olive oil and sea salt.

Petroff and partner Doug Quint, a former Juilliard School doctoral candidate, got into the ice cream business in the winter of 2009 on the suggestion of one of Quint's classmates. The classmate, who was operating a Mister Softee truck, said her truck depot was looking for more drivers.

"We just thought it was too funny to pass up," said Petroff, who then ran corporate trainings.

They made gourmet tweaks to the truck's offerings and started a blog about their experiment to document their "misadventures."

The truck got its name after Quint wrote a Facebook post asking his friends to read the blog.

"He said something like 'Check out my big gay ice cream truck,' and we said, 'There's the name,'" Petroff said.

Two years later, in the summer of 2011, they quit their jobs, and that September opened the store at 125 E. Seventh St., which regularly has lines out the door.

For the winter season, Big Gay Ice Cream Shop is serving Gobbler sundaes ($6) with vanilla ice cream, crushed pie pieces and whipped cream. They come in two varieties: apple butter and bourbon butterscotch sauce, and pumpkin butter and maple syrup.

As the temperature drops, the ice cream shop will sell spicy hot chocolate and their version of the Italian ice cream and espresso treat dessert the affogato — only they call their version an "affo-gay-to."

"This has all been bigger than we thought," Petroff said.

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, 61 Grove St., is open daily from noon to midnight.