Before opening Mikey Likes It, an ice-cream shop in the East Village in Manhattan, Michael “Mikey” Cole was stuck on New York’s infamous Rikers Island, serving a six-month jail sentence for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. Eight years later, Cole has turned his life around, combining ice cream with hip-hop and pop-culture by creating frozen treats like the “2 Live Crew” milkshake, “Smooth Operator” smoothie, and “Mac Daddy” waffle sandwich.
Having just recently ended his probation, Cole was the subject of a short film by CNN’s Great Big Story video network on Sunday.
“We use ice cream as a way to support our community,” Cole, who grew up just two blocks away from his shop, says in the video. “Everybody loves ice cream. Even those who say they don’t like ice cream still like ice cream.”
Cole claims the rapper Future has become a fan of the shop (Hillary Clinton also recently stopped by), and in the early days he was inspired to open the business after listening to Notorious B.I.G. rap the line, “The milk was chocolate, the cookies, butter crunch,” on “Sky’s the Limit.” Still, Cole says it was a conversation with his mother that made him want to change his life.
“A few years ago my mother got sick. I promised her I wouldn’t be locked up anymore and doing the wrong things,” Cole explains. “Ice cream was just something that came into my life at a time when I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Ultimately, he learned how to use his surroundings to make something unique.
“If Ben & Jerry’s grew up here, in the Lower East Side in the ’80s and ’90s, this is what it would be,” he told the New York Post in 2014. “I’ve always learned to take the bitter with the sweet.”
[via Great Big Story]