Pittsburgh’s mobile-food scene looks to expand into uncharted waters this spring, as a local ice cream parlor plans to build and launch an ice cream boat.
Sugar and Spice is a family-owned business that sells ice cream as well as cake and candy supplies on Route 51 in Baldwin Borough. Starting last summer, a branch of the family also started selling ice cream via the Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Truck.
Earlier this month, that couple — Kevin and Laurie Heenan — announced that they’d purchased a 35-foot Crest houseboat to transform it into the Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Boat that is to be plying the three rivers by April.
“We got approval from the health department and the [C]oast [G]uard to go through with building the Ice Cream Boat,” they announced on the project’s Facebook page. There are already Twitter (@SSIceCreamBoat) and Instagram (ssicecreamboat) accounts.
Mr. Heenan says he plans to document the building process on social media as he did with the truck. When finished, the boat will mostly cruise around the Point and its dock on the Monongahela River at South Side Marina at SouthSide Works.
“You won’t recognize it,” says his nephew, Jon Shanahan, who helps with social media and otherwise. He says the boat will bear the same teal, pink and black color scheme as the truck. “It’s a roaming billboard.”
It will be able to serve boaters and kayakers who pull up to it on the water and serve people on the shore. They’re planning to start out serving at least 10 varieties of ice cream. The boat could roam even farther if booked in advance for special events.
The region’s mobile-food scene already includes not just trucks but also trailers and a bicycle cart that sells frozen treats. Another person continues to tweet about launching the Pittsburgh Pork Rind Bike, and the operator of Pittsburgh Taco Truck has a Twitter account for the Pittsburgh Taco Boat, but no word on whether that’s going to actually launch.
I asked and @pghtacoboat replied that “the jury’s out on that one but I’d put it at 50/50 ready for 2016 and 80/20 for 2017.”
Mr. Shanahan says his family hopes to inspire other mobile vendors to take to the water. Specifically, the North Hills’ Mission Mahi truck. “I’d love to get a fish taco on the river.”
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.