Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, the co-founders of Ample Hills Creamery, have experienced a rollercoaster ride in the ice cream business. They started with an ice cream push cart and eventually grew their business to 13 scoop shops and an online store valued at $40 million. However, costly business decisions and strategic missteps led to financial troubles, and they filed for bankruptcy in 2020. They were eventually able to reacquire the Ample Hills brand for $150,000 and opened a new Brooklyn ice cream shop called The Social. Their focus now is on slowly growing their businesses and ensuring profitability.
Smith, a former Syfy screenwriter, and Cuscuna, a former teacher, decided to pursue their passion for ice cream after seeing the joy it brought to others. They opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in 2011 and quickly gained popularity, attracting long lines and celebrity endorsements. However, their rapid expansion and the construction of an oversized factory led to oversupply issues and wasted product. Despite attempting to raise more capital, they were unable to avert financial difficulties and had to declare bankruptcy.
After their bankruptcy, Cuscuna took a course for entrepreneurs looking to restart and connected with a business advisor who became the investor for their new ice cream shop, The Social. Smith and Cuscuna now have a small group of knowledgeable investors focused on profitability. In 2022, they were able to reacquire the Ample Hills brand and four shop locations at an auction for $150,000. Their goal now is to slowly grow their businesses and focus on operations and brand building.
Overall, Smith and Cuscuna’s journey in the ice cream business has had its ups and downs. After building a successful brand, they faced financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy. However, they were determined to rebuild and have since opened a new shop and reacquired their original brand. They are now focused on slow growth and profitability as they navigate the competitive ice cream industry.