Food for Thought

Ice Cream in Parrotice

North Caicos shop offers big scoops of opportunity.

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photos By Tom Rathgeb 

Many know the silly childhood chant, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” In the case of Parrotice on North Caicos, though, it was the land that screamed, calling out, “I want to be an ice cream shop!” Also silly? Owner Patti DesLauriers explains.

Patti DesLauriers and Howie Bartels had owned a piece of property along the highway just past Major Hill Road in North Caicos since 2002. Originally, they thought they’d build their home on the land, but later decided to place the house away from the road, in Major Hill. In 2018, they began clearing the property, intending to sell it.

“When it was cleared, I looked at it and said, ‘This is perfect for an ice cream shop,’” Patti relates. “I always thought this island needed an ice cream shop.”

The Parrotice menu features cool treats and fun foods.

DesLauriers admits her idea was a bit crazy. A previous restaurant that sold ice cream had gone dormant, and Patti had no experience in the ice cream business. But she is creative and curious. She did lots of research, bought an ice cream maker and began experimenting with recipes. “I’d make everyone I know taste it, then go back and try more,” she says. She concentrated on fresh ingredients and local sourcing, finally coming up with a list of flavors she believed would work.

Ice cream alone, however, does not make an ice cream shop. Along with the recipes, Patti worked on other developments.

• Building the shop itself was step one. Major Hill builder Charlton Gardiner did all the basic work, and Bartels, who is employed by Gardiner, added a porch, did the inside finishing work and made tables and outside seating. Patti did the painting herself, sometimes enlisting help from friends. She favors bright colors and combined them to make the place eye-catching and fun.

• Getting equipment and supplies took time, money and the usual patience of bringing goods to the islands. The small shop has a surprising amount of overhead, including two ice cream makers, freezer and refrigerator, prep sinks and counters, a popcorn machine and more.

• Following health department regulations and getting a business license took much time and effort, requiring lots of trips to Provo, visits from inspectors, and just plain old red tape. Patti says those efforts took a lot out of her, but she was determined not to give up.

Deshanti Forbes (at left) and Sherry Williams take shifts to run the shop. Williams, the manager, also makes the ice creams.

• Finding workers among the local population was an important priority. “I didn’t want to employ myself. I wanted to give back to the island,” Patti explains. She found exceptional people to run the shop in Islanders Sherry Williams, manager and ice cream maker, and Deshanti Forbes, a recent graduate of Raymond Gardiner High School. Both women quickly became more than employees; Sherry helped Patti to tweak and perfect the ice cream recipes, and Deshanti listened to the first customers and passed on suggestions for new flavors and other food items to complement the offerings.

Other people voluntarily became involved, too, caught up in the fun and excitement. Rita Shaw, an artist who lives on Middle Caicos, made photo-op placards for Parrotice, and David Kennedy of Sandy Point donated a bit of framed decoration. Jim Frey of Middle Caicos carved an ice-cream-eating parrot (a nod to the shop’s logo) from a section of casuarina tree and presented it as a gift, naming it Iceman. You could say that artists just flocked to the place.

On the menu

Parrotice Ice Cream and Sno had a soft opening in July 2019 as Patti’s team worked to develop some local support before launching into tourist season. Basic menu items are ice cream cones or bowls, sno-cones, popcorn, hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches. The standard list of ice cream flavors includes coconut, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, rum raisin, peppermint, cookies and cream and butter pecan, but there is also a flavor of the week and the Parrotice team keeps coming up with new ideas. On that list are banana (locally sourced), banana-strawberry and other flavors that will come from North Caicos fruits. People who want to purchase pints or quarts of ice cream can call a day ahead to place an order.

There are non-food offerings as well. Customers are encouraged to hang out, playing cards or dominoes, taking photos or using the free Wi-Fi. Patti is pleased that Parrotice has become a family-friendly social place, and hopes to develop in that direction with a swing set and some other playground items for children.

Giving back

Patti is serious about wanting to give back to the North Caicos community. She jokes that the place probably won’t turn a profit for at least 20 years, but profit isn’t her motive. “My vision is, I would like to have this area be a sort-of park with a number of little businesses and pathways connecting them.” To that end, she is offering Islanders the space, rent-free, to build their own nearby business spots, envisioning an art gallery, gift shop, tiki bar . . . “whatever,” she says. She adds, though, that her offer is only for local entrepreneurs and small businesses, not foreign chains.

The Parrotice logo, a cartoon parrot eating an ice cream cone, typifies the playful attitude that Patti wants the business to have and keep. She hopes to keep it fun for Islanders and tourists alike while offering cool treats and snacks to make people happy to be in her Parrotice paradise.

To place an order or find out more, call (649) 242-8604.

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South Caicos was once a major exporter of salt harvested from its extensive salinas. Award-winning Master and Craftsman Photographer James Roy of Paradise Photography ( created this vertical composition by assembling a series of six images captured by a high-definition drone which was a half a mile away from his position.

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