Delicia’s Gourmet Ice is in the process of changing its name to Dee’s Gourmet Ice. It won’t matter what the name is; it will still be about the best treat you’ve ever tasted. Or as Teano Tucker says, “the best thing you’ve never tasted.”
The reason for the name change is fairly simple. Delicia Tucker saw a young boy she had served at a children’s event. He was trying to explain to his mother who she was but couldn’t pronounce “Delicia” and he simply said, “Dee’s Ice is delicious” and that’s when they decided to change the name. The Tuckers are now in the process of obtaining new signage to reflect the change in name. So, keep an eye out for Dee’s Gourmet Ice in the little blue box trailer.
The Tuckers say that when they started their business several years ago on a street corner or at paid festivals with two coolers in the back of a Hyundai– they couldn’t even get people to accept free samples, “it was tough.” But they stuck to their plan– that a friendly smile and great product would eventually succeed.
Fast forward to July 4, 2018, when over 400 customers stood in line, some for 30 minutes or more, to buy a cup of their Gourmet Ice at the Vinton Fourth of July celebration at the War Memorial. Nowadays, customers follow them on Facebook and Instagram to see where their truck will be set up on a particular day.
Perseverance and hard work paid off. They stuck with their unique and patented formula for Gourmet Ice and Teano Tucker’s solid business model; their reputation has spread through word of mouth and now they have become a fixture in the community.
However, they say that most of their business isn’t those public events, but rather private business events where companies reward their employees with a visit from the Gourmet Ice truck, or children are treated at their nursery school or at library programs. Roanoke City Public Library coordinates events with their delicious flavors to match the activities.
One rental agent has increased his on-time collection rate from tenants by hiring Delicia’s Gourmet Ice to hand out servings on the day rent is due.
They do private events like birthday, graduation parties, and family reunions. They are often seen at Party in the Park events, Mingle concerts, and community festivals.
They also do fundraisers in which the organization can set its own price for the treats to maximize profits.
“We provide an opportunity for children to learn business and marketing skills and enjoy a great product,” said Delicia.
Their current serving area is almost all of Southwest Virginia
What is Gourmet Ice? It is a treat that has the taste and smooth cold texture of ice cream but is dairy free, gluten free and kosher certified. That makes it perfect for the calorie conscious and the lactose intolerant.
Their slogan for their delicious frozen treat is “It’s not ice cream, just good ice.”
They currently rotate 15 different flavors based upon availability, and even more if you combine those 15. The current favorites are Mango, Rainbow, Cherry, and Tye Dye. They offer two sugar-free flavors, lemon and cherry.
They serve four- and eight-ounce cups, pints, and quarts, and will even sell by the gallon or the four-gallon buckets the gourmet ice comes in.
Teano Tucker advises customers that “you need to get your own cup; you aren’t going to want to share.”
The recipe for Gourmet Ice is patented. Only six businesses in Virginia currently sell it.
The Tuckers’ business is entirely mobile. Rent for a permanent location is prohibitive and doesn’t fit their business plan. They do set up on 24th Street and Loudon Street NW at the same location near the Family Dollar when they have openings in their schedule.
Delicia said, “You get to meet lots of wonderful people. Children we have served at day cares, the library, or schools, run up and hug us in public to their parents’ surprise. They want to hug the Ice Lady.”
Because they have diversified by working with businesses, their own business has become year-round, rather than seasonal, every day, not just on weekends.
They have plans to expand, adding another truck and a pushcart in addition to the concession trailer. They currently have three part-time employees.
Teano continues his research into techniques. Delicia calls him a “scoopologist” with good business instincts and good common sense. She also says that he has the unusual talent of being able to look at a customer who is having a hard time choosing a flavor, and “99 percent of the time, he can pick the right one for them.”
While word of mouth has been their main marketing strategy, they do use social media and post where they are going to be located each day on the Delicia’s Gourmet Ice sites.
The Tuckers frequently bring their mothers along to events and say they are their best marketing secret. “Social butterflies Mary Jo Tucker and Joyce Inge” wave at the crowds and draw them in. It’s a family affair.
The Tuckers are from the Roanoke area and graduates of William Fleming High School. They both had serious careers before deciding they were tired of working for other people and wanted to establish a business that would be fulfilling for them both. Teano says Delicia likes to be out in the public and enjoys meeting people— this business is the perfect opportunity for her personality.
Delicia has degrees in Hospitality and Tourism and in business and was previously a tax preparer. Teano was vice president of the Laborers Union Local 980 in Roanoke.
For more information check out their Facebook page, Delicia’s Gourmet Ice and on Instagram @deliciasgourmetice.