Rob McCue wishes he could offer more than 56 flavors at Granny’s Ice Cream, the Commack shop he took over in July 2018, but that’s all the freezer cases can accommodate. To maximize space, all but the most popular flavors (vanilla, chocolate, coffee, mint-chip, monster mint, cookies 'n cream, chocolate-chip-cookie-dough, coffee-mud-pie) are displayed not in traditional 3-gallon plastic tubs, but in shallow metal gelato pans.
It’s not only McCue’s imagination that runs wild, it’s his subconscious. “Sometimes a flavor will come to me in my dreams,” he said. “And I can’t wait to get to the shop to make it.” This was the case with strawberry-Oreo with marshmallow swirl, whereas maple-glazed bacon-whiskey and candied-lemon-peel-poppy were products of his waking mind.
When McCue describes his flavors as “chef driven,” he is being literal. The Plainedge native graduated with a culinary degree from New York Institute of Technology in Central Islip. After attending three colleges (Farmingdale State College, Nassau Community College and Hofstra), “It was the first place I ever got an “A,” he recalled.
After NYIT, he was a chef for a number of corporate food services such as Aramark and Sodexo, but, in 2010, he appeared in Season 8 of Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and even though he exited after the ninth episode, the exposure opened a number of doors that eventually led, in 2017, to the opening of his own restaurant, The Fat Monk, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Despite good notices and a celebrity clientele, the place lasted only two years.
Around the same time, McCue’s wife, Christine, found that Granny’s was for sale. “She told me, ‘I’ve found this place, we’re buying a house and moving to Long Island.’ I’d been in Manhattan for 15 years, grinding it out, and I’d had it so I said, ‘OK.’”
Among McCue’s flavors are seven that are vegan, a market that he knows is growing — and that doesn’t include Dole Whip, the cult pineapple-flavored soft serve. His determination to provide something for everyone seems to be working. “Even with the pandemic,” he said, “we are packed every night. This June we did better business than last June.”
As the weather cools, he’ll be focusing more on handmade chocolates and the custom ice-cream cakes that are principally Christine’s domain. He also has plans in the works for renovating the modest store in the Northgate Shopping Center, which clearly shows its origins as a Carvel. A name change is also under consideration.
One new item that’s already on order is a neon sign with an ice cream cone that, McCue hopes, “can be seen from space.”
Granny's Ice Cream is at 1153 Jericho Turnpike, Commack, 631-543-7501, grannysicecreamcommack.com.