With flavors such as “Porky’s Delight,” in which vanilla ice cream is loaded with bacon and bacon brittle, and “Pump Up the Yam,” a treat of sweet potato ice cream with caramel, pecans and marshmallows, Bill Workman has taken one of America’s favorite desserts and turned it into an artistic infusion for the taste buds.
Workman opened The Revolution Ice Cream Company at 220 West Brandon Blvd. in March but began his ice cream revolution upon returning from a trip to Pittsburgh where he visited an ice cream shop that offered several unique flavors.
After trying flavors he never had before, he was hooked and wanted to find a similar place in Tampa.
He got home and realized there wasn’t a similar option.
“So I started making ice cream at home,” Workman said. “I started working on flavors of my own that were really cool and different.”
As he began to create different flavors, Workman would make a batch and pass it around to neighbors and friends. Soon those friends began asking if they could start buying the ice cream from him. Before he knew it, he was making over 250 pints a month from his house.
Workman said his concoctions are inspired by everything from meals he eats to watching cooking shows to customer suggestions, one time making a bleu cheese, apple and bacon combination upon recommendation from a customer.
There have been concoctions that he said he felt didn’t work the first time, but Workman said he tweaks the recipes to make them work. He’s never thrown out a recipe because it didn’t succeed on the first try.
Workman’s newest flavor is based on a dish that has recently become popular with many foodies—chicken and waffles. Jeremy Sobkowiak, a Riverview resident, said he is a fan after trying the new flavor, which is made up of vanilla ice cream with small bits of chicken, waffle cone and maple syrup.
“The flavor is not as over the top as I expected,” he said. “The waffles and syrup dominate the taste buds, but you realize the aftertaste has traces of the small bites of chicken.”
The flavor Workman said has been ordered the most is “Drunken Brownies,” a chardonnay-caramel ice cream with brownie bits mixed in.
“I have a pretty good idea before I start that something is going to be good or going to work,” Workman said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how much of what to put in.”
Workman also encourages customers to experiment and blend flavors to create original milkshakes.
“‘Nutter Fudger,’ ‘Banana Pudding’ and ‘Porky’s Delight’ blended together is known as the ‘Elvis Shake,’” Workman said. “It’s fun to see what the customers come up with on their own.”
Though the Revolution Ice Cream Company began as a quaint, eclectic ice cream shop, its popularity is spreading. Patrons, such as Susie Schwartz of Brandon, are even bringing in friends to experience the unique flavors and the unique atmosphere.
“It’s a great feel,” Schwartz said. “The atmosphere is really cool and very homey.”
For some customers, such as Sarah Viera, a recent USF graduate, it’s not only the fun, family friendly vibe, and delicious ice cream that draws her in, but she said that she feels good about giving business to a shop that cares about and gives back to the community.
“Their vision is to use their business to give back to organizations in the community that they care about,” Viera said. “They have even expanded that vision to help the families effected by the tornado in Oklahoma.”
Recently, Workman donated about $600 in tips collected at the store to Oklahoma relief efforts, and with his son, he packed up supplies and headed to volunteer there for four days.
When Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s visited USF, Workman had an opportunity to get advice from one of the leaders in ice cream. Greenfield told him the blend of unique flavors is what Workman excels at and to stick to the uniqueness.
“Charge whatever you need to charge people,” Workman said Greenfield told him. “You are unique and different. Charge whatever you need to charge to make it work.”
Prices range from $2.50 for one scoop to $5 for a bowl and $6 for a waffle bowl. A pint of ice cream costs $7 and a quart costs $13.
Since the opening of the shop, Workman has seen a consistent growth of customers, and through his Facebook page, Workman regularly posts ways for customers to save on their next visit.
This Saturday will be USF Day, where students are encouraged to say the phrase, “Go Bulls!” and in return will receive 25 percent off.