If you think you’ve had a hard time dealing with COVID-19, Kevin Mullins sees you and raises you by 19 flavors of ice cream. “Testing these recipes has been tough,” he says. “You have to be careful how much you eat.”
On Oct. 1, the owner (with wife Cheri Mullins) of Asheville Sandwich Co. scratched his longtime itch for an ice cream shop with the opening of Whirly Bird Ice Cream & Milkshake Bar. He didn’t have to go far to do it.
“I had my eye on the building next door for a while, but with the pandemic and so much uncertainty, I felt like I needed to get a little more creative,” he says. “Since Asheville Sandwich is closed to indoor dining and doing a walk-up order window only, we had some extra space inside, so why not make it into an ice cream shop?”
A pandemic that has turned the food industry upside down and the imminent approach of cold weather might be two good “why-nots,” but Mullins reasons, “It’s 2020, and nothing is making sense. Might as well give it a shot.”
A shot is exactly what Whirly Bird’s unique ice cream gets, in the form of a wand that shoots negative-320-degree liquid nitrogen into a bowl of ice cream base, flavors and mix-ins. “This style of ice cream has been spinning up in Florida and other places. It’s a fun way to make ice cream to order. The engineer in me wanted to try it. It turns out ice cream is really hard,” he admits with a laugh.
After many experiments — and lots of taste testing — Whirly Bird opened its order window and installed its menu on the left rear wall of the Haywood Road sandwich shop, piquing the curiosity of people waiting for their sandwiches.
On the big board are the 19 specialty flavors, among them Campfire S’Mores; Nutella, Strawberries and Cream; Dreamy Mint Cookie; and Cinnamon Dulce de Leche. Build-your-own options offer more than a dozen mix-ins, and vessel choices include bowls, waffle cones or bubble waffles. All flavor combinations can be turned into milkshakes.
“If we keep making good and creative stuff, I don’t think the cold weather will matter,” says Mullins. “We all deserve a treat these days.”
For Whirly Bird’s menu and hours of operation, visit avl.mx/8n7.