By Katie McFadden
Rockaway has its own brand of homemade ice cream! In April, Tracy Obolsky of Rockaway Beach Bakery teamed up with Sam Friedman and Danielle Stathis of Coastal Market to whip up some batches of Rockaway Beach Creamery products for Coastal to sell as their exclusive ice cream to go along with their other sweet treats like frozen yogurt, MUD vegan ice cream and other frozen goodies.
Ever had vanilla honeycomb ice cream, made with real vanilla beans? It’s the number one seller since Rockaway Beach Creamery came to Coastal. Tied for second are the mint fudge, a creamy ice cream made with fresh mint leaves, with a fudge swirl, and salted whiskey caramel, a smooth flavor mix that highlights every part of it with each bite. Maybe the newest additions, peanut butter and jelly made with a raspberry jam or strawberry rhubarb pie, made with real pieces of pie from Rockaway Beach Bakery, are the fruity flavors you’re looking for. If your mouth is watering, head to Coastal at 108-19 Rockaway Beach Drive to try one, or even two, of the roughly ten flavor options in a cup or cone, with any toppings of your choice. And you’re going to want to make repeat stops this summer as new flavors are introduced.
For Obolsky and Friedman, the collaboration has been a match made in frozen treat heaven. When Friedman and Stathis bought Coastal Frozen Yogurt just a year ago in May 2022, they changed the name to Coastal Market to make it more of a destination for not just fro-yo and ice cream, but any frozen treat. And in their plan was collaborating with other small businesses. “We changed it to Coastal Market to be a platform for collaborations like this one,” Friedman said. And it didn’t take long for Sam to get a sign that Tracy would be a perfect fit for that vision.
“My aunt showed me an article where Tracy was talking about what she would want to do beyond the bakery, and she said her favorite thing was ice cream. So I went to the bakery and said I have an ice cream shop, let’s collaborate,” Friedman said. Obolsky mulled it over, considering whether it would be possible to do while operating the bakery simultaneously.
But ice cream has been in her blood. “My first job ever, I was working at Carvel at 15. I vowed to never do it again because I came home smelling like cream all the time and then I became a pastry chef years later and found myself standing in front of an ice cream machine working for a chef who was known for his ice cream sundaes. I had worked for Nick Morgenstern who owns Morgenstern’s Ice Cream,” Obolsky said. Then she discovered ice cream was a family hobby. “Later in life, I found out my grandmother, my dad’s mother, was an ice cream taster and quality control monitor for Welsh Farms Ice Cream Factory in New Jersey. She was like 85 and she whipped out a newspaper article with a photo of her standing above an ice cream machine with a spoon.”
Obolsky had been considering picking up the spoon again herself. “I always wanted to get back into it but never thought it was possible until Sam came into the bakery in winter, when things were hard,” she said. But with some convincing from her husband and recognizing that she has a great staff running a well-oiled machine at Rockaway Beach Bakery for six years, Tracy figured she had time to put her culinary creativity to the test with another type of sweet treat.
Obolsky started making test batches late last summer, but she and Friedman decided to wait for the right time to roll out Rockaway Beach Creamery at Coastal. “We started serving ice cream that first really warm weekend in April, so it was perfect ice cream weather. It’s been fun getting back into it. I realized I can do this,” Obolsky said. After all, it comes easy with good partners behind her.
Friedman says bringing Rockaway Beach Creamery products to Coastal has been a great move. “Everybody loves and raves about it. Everything has been positive so far and for good reason. The flavors are really distinct, the creaminess is there, it’s the perfect consistency, it’s just really an amazing product that shows through the way people post about it and tell their friends about it. Tracy’s name means something to people in the community,” he said.
Obolsky also can’t escape the rave reviews, even while on the waves. “I was surfing in the morning, and I joke that normally people will be like, it must be Monday, did you do the croissants? And this time everyone was asking about the ice cream and saying they had it, so I ask what flavor?”
After all, the flavors have given people plenty to talk about. Obolsky’s flavor inspiration comes from old recipe books she’s saved, nostalgia from childhood, and incorporating ingredients from her bakery. And Obolsky puts care into each batch, figuring out just the perfect amount of sugar, cream, salt and even air in a process that can take over 24 hours, and then makes sure it’s frozen at just the right temperature so it has the perfect creamy consistency when served.
For Friedman, a longtime entrepreneur, the collaboration with Obolsky has been one of his most rewarding ventures yet. “This is what we wanted for local collaborations,” he said. “We’re making it in house, so its exclusively Rockaway. There’s something special when it’s handmade locally, you can taste the difference. I’ve made ice cream in all different levels and had products in 37 states and this venture is the most rewarding. It’s made right here with all this love and care, and I see each customer come and I hand it to them, and to see their smile has made this the most rewarding ice cream venture so far. It’s community driven and not about scaling big or going national. It’s just about serving quality things and having an amazing partnership and serving the community.”
It’s a partnership that Friedman and Obolsky hope to keep going for years to come. To try Rockaway Beach Creamery’s ice creams or any of the other delicious frozen desserts, stop by Coastal on Beach 109th. They’re open seven days a week starting at 1 p.m. For more info and updates, including the newest flavors, be sure to follow both @rockawaybeachcremery and @Coastalrbny on Instagram.