NYC ice cream maker struggling during pandemic

Johnny Nunez/WireImageBY: LEIGHTON SCHNEIDER, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus forced Mikey Cole to shutdown his ice cream shop, Mikey Like’s It Ice Cream, in March, and like many small business owners he is struggling.  

Cole started his business after spending a few months in jail for dealing drugs and was trying to put his life back together when he found an ice cream recipe from an aunt of his who had recently died. 

Cole spoke to ABC News’ Cheri Preston, host of ABC News’ ‘Perspective Podcast”, about his experience over the past few months and said it’s been tough to see what’s happened to his community. 

“I’m born and raised right here. I come out of my apartment building and I walk two blocks to the store. I [used to] get to say hello to everybody on the street. It’s kind of weird. It’s a great weirdness because it’s love that the community gives you. I’ve always prided [myself] on creating this ice cream for the community. It’s hard because I can’t do what I normally do now,” said Cole on a special edition of the podcast, Pandemic – A Nation Divided.  

Since his stores in Harlem and the East Village closed, they have only been delivering to customers in Manhattan, some that Cole has done personally to show his appreciation to customers, but he is closer to getting back to normal with his shops opening back up this weekend.

Cole tried to apply for a Payment Protection Program loan from the government, but he said the process was too burdensome. 

“A lot of it is the procedures of what they’re asking you to have. …The stuff they’re asking you for are financial papers from a year ago. Things that take you to dig up. With an accountant you can get the information, but they’re asking for tax records of this year, last year. This isn’t information that you just have sitting under a desk,” said Cole.

He says Harlem has been one of the hardest-hit areas of the city and that everyone should wear a mask when they are out. 

“It’s knowing that, consciously, I respect your help. In Harlem some people aren’t doing it. I get upset. I’m like ‘wow I can’t get back to making ice cream,’ but then I remember it’s about everyone. As long as everyone’s safe, there will be a day back when I can make ice cream,” said Cole. 

He hopes the ice cream will put smiles on all his customer’s faces. 

“I stay creative by creating the flavors that gives you a memorable, nostalgic memory for yourself to then put a smile on your face, no matter what’s going on around you,” said Cole. 

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