Walk up to 4th Avenue Food Park and you’ll see acoustic performances and vintage thrift vendors sitting among scattered wooden benches condensed with sunlight. In the buzzing scene, a bright aquamarine and orange truck stands in the corner serving delicious treats.
The truck belongs to Feliz Flavors, a small-batch Latin-inspired ice cream company, parked at 409 SW 4th Avenue.
With the sweltering heat and scent of sweet milk, customers can’t help but walk towards it.
Before opening Feliz Flavors, the owner, Joshua Broadhead, and his wife, Jasmine Broadhead, ran a Brazilian martial arts after-school program. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a martial arts program wasn’t feasible, Joshua Broadhead said. While sitting in their kitchen during quarantine, the couple developed the idea of bringing Latin-inspired ice cream to Gainesville.
“I was looking for something that I could be creative with,” he said. “I started making ice cream and realized that I like this, because I can be really creative. It's like this blank canvas that you can turn into anything you want.”
Feliz Flavors has only been open for three months, but the team is already reaping the successes of the business’ distinctiveness. Having just passed their first quarter, they have already outgrown their commissary kitchen, where they prepare the ice cream, and are in the process of moving to their own production facility.
Originally, they planned to move into one of the storefronts at the food park. However, Joshua Broadhead and the Felix Flavors crew learned that customers enjoy the ice cream truck concept that Feliz Flavors offers.
“People really enjoy the experience of going up to an ice cream truck rather than an ice cream store,” Joshua Broadhead said. “It adds a lot of value to the food park here.”
They plan to upgrade their trailer to a nicer, remodeled truck. The vision for the truck is for it to look, “really classy, something in between modern and nostalgic” Joshua Broadhead says, something that exudes an “old-timey” feeling customers get when they go to Feliz Flavors, he said.
Joshua Broadhead hopes that within the next six months, the upgraded truck will be finished and ready for business. The idea is for the upgraded truck to be parked at 4th Avenue Food Park while the current truck drives across Gainesville.
Feliz Flavors isn’t stopping there; the plans extend to taking over the ice cream industry.
“We are on a mission to destroy grocery store ice cream for everybody,” he said, “so once we get our production facility in place the process to start doing pints is going to be the next step.”
Joshua Broadhead wants to get Feliz Flavors ice cream into supermarkets, and the company has already started selling pints to businesses around town.
Unlike grocery store ice cream, Feliz Flavors doesn’t use preservatives, emulsifiers or artificial syrup flavorings. Feliz Flavors’ uses real fruit and fresh ingredients.
“It comes out in 2 ½ quart batches and it's a three-day process to get one batch of ice cream,” Joshua Broadhead said. “It’s really hard to make but we love it and we’re really proud of it.”
While there are many places to get ice cream in Gainesville, it’s rare to find desserts from other cultures and regions that aren’t American, he said. Joshua Broadhead found that even though there were diverse food options in Gainesville, there weren’t many diverse dessert options.
Joshua Broadhead’s first career was in culinary arts, where he began cooking at 16 years old and gained experience managing restaurants. Since he didn’t know much about running a business, he left the restaurant industry and food became a hobby. After years of running a martial arts studio and other business ventures, Joshua Broadhead accumulated business skills and strategies that he and his wife now use to run Feliz Flavors.
With Joshua Broadhead’s connection to Brazil and his wife’s Cuban heritage, Feliz Flavors offers a unique twist on ice cream flavors. Instead of your everyday chocolate or rum raisin, Feliz Flavors offers flavors like Guanàbana and Tamarind, flavors that he successfully adapted from his time in Brazil.
“My favorite part about Feliz Flavors is their dedication to bringing authentic Latin flavor to the city,” said Eliza Lee, a 24-year-old UF public relations junior. “My fiancé is Colombian and Feliz has fruit flavors from Colombia, like Lulo and Guanàbana. It tastes like home.”
Not only does Feliz Flavors offer a way for those who are not from Latin America to experience authentic Latin culture through the art of ice cream, but it also offers a piece of home for the Gainesville community.
Contact Anushka at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anushkadak
Anushka a third-year journalism and women’s studies major. She has been previously published in Local Wolves Magazine and is the Editorial Director at Rowdy Magazine. In her free time she likes to listen to old Bollywood music and learn about/obsess over other writers’ “processes” whenever she feels like she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often).