Pittsburgh ice cream boat gets a cool grand to launch

Since last fall, when they announced plans to sell ice cream on the three rivers via the Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Boat, Kevin and Laurie Heenan have been remodeling a 35-foot houseboat to launch this spring.

The interesting twist on mobile food is getting a boost in the form of a $1,000 grant from Awesome Pittsburgh, a chapter of the of the Awesome Foundation, a global network of people devoted to “forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.”

Local trustees found the idea of a boat that sells ice cream to other boaters, paddlers and people on shore to be “seriously original.”

“This project unifies one of Pittsburgh’s most prized assets — our rivers — with one of our newest ones, the wave of food trucks emerging throughout the city,” said trustee Mike Capsambelis in a press release.

Mr. Heenan plans to put the boat in the water after its home at South Side Marina opens May 1 and, after a county Health Department inspection. He received the money weeks ago and applied it toward his slip rental, but the award was officially announced last Wednesday.

He and his wife are part of the family that runs the Sugar and Spice ice cream parlor and cake and candy supplies store on Route 51 in Baldwin Borough as well as the Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Truck. In fact, he was working a food truck event when he applied for the grant. 

As he did with the truck, Mr. Heenan has been documenting the building process on social media. Last month, he finished installing new ceiling joists, rebuilt the steering wheel and finished the wiring, working on it near a friend’s house in Monongahela. When the food boat is finished — and painted in the same teal, pink and black scheme — it will sell up to 10 flavors of ice cream. 

Watch the boat’s progress on Facebook. For more on Awesome Pittsburgh, visit awesomepgh.com. And once it goes live, you will be able to track its whereabouts on the new local Mobile Nom app.  

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


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