Ice Cream Delivery Comes To The Beach

One of the more perfect things about a day at the beach – along with the sun and the sand and the surf – is the promise that after hours of warming yourself in the hot sea air and exhausting yourself in the salt water, an ice cream truck will almost surely be coming your way. 

Nothing goes together like the beach and a popsicle. It’s the sort of thing that’s just so true it sounds as though it could be a cliché. Might actually be, as a matter of fact.

The trouble arises however when you find yourself on one on the Cape’s more secluded sunning spots – Sampson’s Island, Popponesset Spit, areas of Sandy Neck.

No roads in, no roads out, alas no ice cream trucks.

It is here where a special breed of hero comes into play. Instead of capes, they wear swim trunks and heavy tans.

They are the Ice Cream Boat guys.

“It all started 10 years ago,” begins Payton Titcomb, co-founder of the company.

“We were just having a back-yard conversation with my Aunt Sarah, who also lives on the Cape, about jobs and I was 16 at the time and Tim was 12 and we both loved being on the water and she said ‘you should do an ice cream boat’ and we just latched onto it.”

The young bothers, Payton and Tim, enjoyed time together and particularly enjoyed time on the water, and so they took a stab at launching an ice cream business catering to a heretofore untapped market of boaters and beach goers at some of the Cape’s more difficult to reach spots. Hey, everybody likes ice cream.

“That first season was really thrown together,” chimes in Tim, he points out an old photo of their first day on the job. There’s a boat, a couple coolers, and some adult supervision.

“We were on this junky Craigslist boat with a junky Craigslist engine, we just had one big sign, and four coolers filled with dry ice, and only about five products at the time. It was a really thrown together operation at first but over the years it really grew into something serious and more tangible for us to make into our own little business.”

Right away, the business was more successful than the brothers seemed to anticipate. The fact that they made any profit so soon struck them by surprise. They did exactly what they teach you to do in all of the business courses that they hadn’t taken and reinvested in the company.

That cheap Craigslist powerboat soon became two, more reliable vessels, the dry-ice coolers were replaced with industrial on-board freezers and their weekend scheduled was expanded to seven days. They hired a crew of family and buddies to help with the growing sales and expanded their selection of ice cream novelties.

These days, a typical day begins around 9 AM. The boats are loaded, gassed up, and on water by noon. Tim and his team take the south side, traveling between Popponesset and Sampson’s Island and stopping at the numerous boats that flag them down in between.

In the meantime, Payton and a crew are in the second, identical boat covering the north from Bassett’s Island to the Sandy Neck Spit. This goes on all day. There’s usually a post lunch-time rush and another right before people clear out for the day. The guys typically call it a day by 5 or 6, depending on business.

The customers, even regulars, never seem to tire of the Cape Coddy charm of an ice cream delivered by boat. Kids – and more than a few adults – gather impatiently in the shallow water for their pick of a Rainbow Bar, Fudge Pop, Screw Ball, Chaco Taco, the crowd favorite ice cream cookie sandwich, or whatever else happens to still be in stock.

“A huge part of our business is selling that novelty aspect of a business on the water, a business on a boat that comes to you on the beach but also comes to you on your own boat,” said Tim.

“Everyone is so excited to see the Ice Cream Boat. They’re excited to have the ice cream but they’re really excited to have that interaction. Doing a business transaction while out on the water is pretty rare, but it’s something they all enjoy, new and old customers.”

The Titcombs are friendly and charming and well suited for work in the fast-paced customer service industry. They don’t have any stories of unruly or savage patrons, at least none that they’re willing to admit to.  They say that people have been nice to them by and large. Apparently, it’s hard to be too unpleasant when ice cream is so near in your future.

Payton and Tim, Cape natives and Sandwich High School Graduates, agree that even with the newer boats, both fixing and updating their equipment has always been a major part of their jobs. For such a small operation, the vast majority of the maintenance and repairs are done themselves. Much of their mechanical skill is stuff they have picked up on the fly or learned from family.

“We are really lucky to have my dad, he taught us how to work on boats, engines everything,” said Payton.

“We have parents who pushed us from such a young age and helped us do it on our own – with some appropriate guidance, I guess you’d say.”

They’re quick to splash out credit too. Their mom’s yard has taken quite the tool from the heavy equipment. The small but loyal staff, sister Rae has evidently made contributions nobody is very specific about.

But more than anything, both Payton and Tim are effusive with gratitude for the folks who continue to buy their stuff.

“Every day, even on the weekdays, Payson and I always run into new customers. But after 10 years we have these usual customers that we know by name, they know us by name, we know their kids, and over the years we’ve gotten to see these families grow up together,” Tim said,

“Its been this huge part of the business having this close-knit community that we get to be a part of. We’re so honored to be a part of that.”

By David Beatty, Reporter
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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