THERE is an old saying that is popular in the world of business and politics: ‘If you want to make people happy, sell ice cream.’
And it is a saying which has proven to be the raison d’etre for Luxury Jersey Ice Cream Company founder Ian Carr.
‘I thought about it and decided, yep, I’ll literally do just that,’ he says. ‘I want to make people happy and ice cream is happy time – so I’ll sell ice cream. I mean, who isn’t happy when they’re getting something that is sweet and nice and creamy, right?’
Born and raised in South African, Ian – who has lived in Jersey for the past 16 years – owns and runs three independent outlets under the Luxury Jersey Ice Cream Company banner, including a kiosk at the Waterfront Gardens and another along St Paul’s Gate off New Street.
However, it is Ian’s third outlet, the Waffle Wagon, that has recently caused a stir among Islanders.
‘The reaction to the Waffle Wagon has just been unbelievable,’ he says. ‘I had no idea it would take off like this. I mean, people have been going nuts!’
Based in St Ouen’s Bay, the Waffle Wagon is situated directly opposite the Watersplash and has proven wildly popular with Islanders of all ages, with word-of-mouth resulting in Ian’s ice-cream-covered waffles selling like hot cakes – or rather, hot waffles.
‘Basically, the Waffle Wagon is my usual ice cream concept, with all of the Jersey Dairy scoop flavours and soft ice creams that I sell at the other two locations, only I decided that I would put the ice cream onto freshly made warm waffles. Nothing changed except the delivery system, but people have been lapping it up.’
They certainly have. As those who have visited the Waffle Wagon will attest, there are often lengthy queues spiralling around the car park, with dozens of sweet-toothed Islanders eagerly waiting for some of Ian’s waffle-based goodies.
‘People have been queueing in the rain, in gale-force winds, in minus-one temperatures,’ he laughs. ‘I’ll pull up on a Sunday morning and there will already be queues of cars waiting for me in the car park.’
Yet it seems no amount of queuing is enough to deter Ian’s ever-growing local fanbase, perhaps because they know their time and patience will always be rewarded with a high-quality product.
‘Well, my ethos is that everything I do has to be about quality, with good customer service sprinkled on top,’ he says. ‘I like to under-promise and over-deliver. It doesn’t matter if someone has queued for over an hour, I will still give their waffle the same amount of attention to detail as I would for everyone else. It doesn’t matter how big the queue is – I’ll never rush and skimp on the quality.’
As Ian notes, many Islanders will be familiar with him from his previous spot beside BHS (RIP) in King Street, from where he spent ten years serving fresh Jersey ice cream to Islanders and tourists.
‘I lost my pitch in town last summer,’ he says. ‘Covid-19 was part of the reason and, I’ll be honest, I was pretty upset at the time but, looking back, I think losing it was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. It forced me to make changes to the business. I think, after ten years on King Street, I’d started to become complacent. I had something that worked every year – so why change it? But losing my pitch forced me to be innovative and to try something new.’
Not one for backing away from a challenge, Ian promptly decided to relaunch the Luxury Jersey Ice Cream Company with not one, but three new outlets, beginning with the kiosk at Waterfront Gardens last summer. It was around the same time that he first acquired the van that would soon become his most popular venture.
‘I bought it in June last year and spent the remainder of the summer transforming it into the Waffle Wagon,’ he recalls. ‘I even did the Waffle Wagon logo myself.’
Initially, Ian parked the van in St Helier and, at first, it seemed his waffle-based concept was destined to be a flop: ‘No one was around and it was all a bit weird. So I decided, “OK, I’ll try it out at St Ouen instead”, and I set up there in the first week of January. Now, January and February would usually be my downtime, you know. I would never normally trade in those two months.’
Yet what would typically be the two quietest months on Ian’s calendar instead proved to be two of the busiest of his career.
‘It just went absolutely crazy,’ he says. ‘I get all kinds of people visiting the wagon, all age groups, and everyone is always so friendly. I also get loads of South Africans stopping by, which is nice. I always get along with them, of course. I hear a fellow South African accent and we have a chat.’
Among the South-Africa-born Islanders who frequent the Waffle Wagon is Mark Pinnick, who is the founder of The Little Jersey Billtong Company, and who helped Ian promote the business on social media.
‘That was when things really blew up,’ laughs Ian. ‘And then Jersey Dairy did the same and, oh, it just went crazy.’
Yet despite the seemingly overnight success of the Waffle Wagon, it hasn’t always proven the easiest of rides for Ian.
‘No, it has definitely been a bumpy road. At times, it’s been a real struggle, with lots of hurdles to overcome. It can be very tricky in Jersey to launch a business. And, honestly, it’s hard work. People think it’s easy but, no, it’s very hard graft. Sometimes there will be a continuous queue for six or seven hours, with no time for a sit down, no time for a drink of water – it’s non-stop work.
‘But I had a vision to get three different outlets on the go and, in the end, it has worked out. I’m very grateful for that.’
The Waffle Wagon is currently open every weekend, Friday to Sunday, and during half-term. From April, it will be open throughout the week. Visit the Luxury Jersey Ice Cream Company page on Facebook for more details.