As co-founder Mohan Kumar tells it, OddFellows in Williamsburg has an origin as sweet as its ice cream.
“When Holiday was pregnant Sam [Mason] brought over ice cream, and she loved it. At the time I was looking to get out of what I was doing in real estate finance and do something more entrepreneurial, more creative,” Kumar shared. “A couple days later, she said, ‘Why don’t you talk to Sam about opening an ice cream shop?’ I said, ‘That’s a great idea.’ I approached Sam about that over a beer, I had half a business plan already written out, and that’s how it started.”
That was 2011. Today, Mohan, his wife Holiday, and his friend Sam Mason co-own OddFellows Ice Cream Co. — probably the only parlor in Brooklyn that has experimented and succeeded with over 200 flavors in less than four years.
The shop opened at 175 Kent Avenue in 2013 and has followed the same North Star ever since: to prepare quality and often unexpected ice cream.
“We enjoy pushing flavor boundaries and challenging people to try some kind of ice cream they might not otherwise,” Mohan shared. This includes what he calls “off the wall flavors,” ranging from caramel chorizo to honey and salted sunflower.
But don’t count on such flavors to be present at each visit. “We never have the same lineup of flavors, even throughout the day,” Mohan said. “It’s a constant shuffle.”
Take a current hit: strawberry and olive oil ice cream. “Sam makes strawberry sorbet with Tristar strawberries we get from New Jersey,” Mohan said. “Then he freezes it, and the next day he’ll make olive oil ice cream and while he’s spinning it he’ll use liquid nitrogen to shatter the sorbet into miniature, rock-hard pieces. Then he’ll fold that into the ice cream.”
The result? A smooth, refreshing, and summery marble of a sweet. In contrast, but equally delicious, is the cornbread flavor — yummy, heavier, and speckled with flakes of the breading that have helped OddFellows get good mileage out of another fan favorite.
If OddFellows’ ice cream is off the beaten track, its decor is aptly reflective of its quirky flavors and Brooklyn surroundings. (Perhaps the least Brooklyn thing about the shop is its affordable prices — a hearty one scoop of ice cream with a cone costs less than $5.) Eclectic mirrors, paintings of ingredients, and a portrait of Jesus holding a double-scoop cone adorn the red and white candy-striped walls. The shop, with its high ceilings and comfortable seating area, has an old-timey feel despite the flavors that evolve and morph each day.
Those flavors extend to OddFellows’ catering events and Manhattan location on East 4th Street. That shop opened in 2014 and hosts just eight flavors (the Williamsburg one usually has around 13). As for events, OddFellows has been at weddings, office parties, and even Panorama and Nighthawk Cinema. Summertime is particularly busy. “We’ve been getting five to ten event inquiries a day,” Mohan stated.
But such an influx of requests is the starter wood for OddFellows’ ever-shifting menu. With summer events keeping the parlors abuzz, one of Mohan’s favorite flavors — “saffron passionfruit” — may make a reappearance should it be needed. Of course, by the time that flavor rolls around, a new one may be born and take its place.
Oddfellows Ice Cream is located at 175 Kent Avenue (between N. 3rd & N. 4th St). They are open Monday to Thursday, 1pm – 11pm; Friday, 1pm – Midnight; Saturday & Sunday, Noon – 11pm.