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    Default Philip's Ice cream with a difference


    http://www.canada.com/calgary/calgar...8-7f5fd9f4d53c

    Philip's Ice cream with a difference

    Gina Teel
    Calgary Herald; With files from Canwest News Service

    Monday, March 15, 2004
    Philip Choy admits he entered the ice cream business two decades ago based on a lick and a promise rather than sound business principles.

    Choy, an unemployed construction worker, was nudged into the business by his brother, who saw dollar signs in the long lineups at My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe on 42 Ave S.W.

    So Choy did what any obedient brother would do and hawked his wife Pansy's gold jewelry -- a traditional Chinese wedding gift -- for $6,000 and opened an retail ice cream shop on Northland Drive.


    Philip Choy, of Dairy Delite Corp., shows off a batch of mango ice cream. He specializes in exotic flavours and sells his products through two Philip's Forbidden Flavors shops and other retail and restaurant locations.
    CREDIT: Grant Black, Calgary Herald

    Almost immediately, Choy identified the gap that would later become his niche.

    "The big dairies don't make exotic flavours like ube (purple yam) or lychee -- there's just not enough volume for them and that's basically what it comes down to," he said.

    "But we knew there was a market for it. Coming from Hong Kong, we knew the Asians would love it."

    Bolstered by the growing wholesale demand for his mango, green tea, black sesame, durian, red bean and ube flavoured ice creams, Choy has now set his sights on taking his creamy product into mainstream grocery chains across Canada.


    "This is a niche nobody is filling. There's not too many Asia-flavoured ice creams out there," says Philip Choy, owner of Dairy Delite Corp.
    CREDIT: Grant Black, Calgary Herald


    Philip Choy admits he entered the ice cream business two decades ago based on a lick and a promise rather than sound business principles.

    Choy, an unemployed construction worker, was nudged into the business by his brother, who saw dollar signs in the long lineups at My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe on 42 Ave S.W.

    So Choy did what any obedient brother would do and hawked his wife Pansy's gold jewelry -- a traditional Chinese wedding gift -- for $6,000 and opened an retail ice cream shop on Northland Drive.

    Almost immediately, Choy identified the gap that would later become his niche.

    "The big dairies don't make exotic flavours like ube (purple yam) or lychee -- there's just not enough volume for them and that's basically what it comes down to," he said.

    "But we knew there was a market for it. Coming from Hong Kong, we knew the Asians would love it."

    Bolstered by the growing wholesale demand for his mango, green tea, black sesame, durian, red bean and ube flavoured ice creams, Choy has now set his sights on taking his creamy product into mainstream grocery chains across Canada.

    "This is a niche nobody is filling," said Choy. "There's not too many Asia flavoured ice creams out there."

    Choy may be Calgary's premier premium ice-cream maker, but this wasn't always the case.

    He began selling premade ice cream from the Northland store in 1985 -- with a twist. Choy introduced waffle cones to the Alberta market after his brother, Pat Chua, obtained exclusive rights to make the sugary treat here.

    Fame came instantly to Choy, but for the all the wrong reasons. Choy had to change the shop's name from Phil's Ice Cream to Philip's Ice Cream after a run-in with a corporate giant operating a restaurant chain with the same name. Then there was the problem the City of Calgary had with a cow perched on the shop's roof, but that's another story.

    By 1992, Choy decided making his own ice cream would give him a competitive edge, so he opened his own ice cream factory, the Dairy Delite Corp., in the city's northeast.

    He began making ice cream from pre-mixed ingredients bought at that time from Alpha Dairies. Along the way, however, Choy realized he'd have a much better product if he made it from scratch himself.

    Making ice cream is an art and a science, Choy insists.

    He uses a higher milk-fat content to get the best mouth appeal, but it's the flavouring that brings his customers back time and again.

    "Anybody can make a creamy ice cream," he said. "The whole trick is in the flavour part, and nobody can teach you that. It just comes from experience."

    By 1995, business was brisk enough to relocate Philip's Ice Cream to Northmount Drive N.W.

    Choy, always eager to spread his wings, decided to concentrate on the wholesale side of his business. He sold the store with the idea of supplying it with ice cream.

    A couple of years later, he opened another retail outlet on 17th Ave S.W. -- tantalizingly named Philip's Forbidden Flavours -- with a partner, his sister-in- law, Ruth Chan.

    He eventually bought back the shop on Northmount Drive, which had since gone out of business, and relocated the outlet to its present location at 783 Northmount Drive with another partner, Tracy Mitchell.

    Choy's shops feature about 100 homemade flavours of premium ice cream, as well as sorbet, toffait and yogurts.

    His flavours range from standard fare like strawberry and vanilla to the unusual ube.

    He comes up with a new flavour every year. Most are candy and confectionary inspired -- like this year's creation, worms and dirt -- made from gummy worms and Cookies and Cream ice cream. "Kids will love it," Choy said.

    There's also a "Viagra" ice cream, basically vanilla ice cream infused with blueberry jelly beans.

    "It's more a psychological effect than anything," he giggles.

    He's currently flavour testing a wasabi -- or Japanese horseradish -- ice cream for an upcoming corporate challenge ice-cream eating contest in Edmonton.

    Choy's favourite flavour is coconut, made from macapono, the popular jellied coconut of the Philippines, but tasting is about all he can do.

    Being severely lactose intolerant, Choy sticks to his fat-free and milk-free ice creams and sorbets.

    Alberta is second only to Winnipeg in terms of the per capita consumption of ice cream in Canada, annually consuming 17.5 litres per person, according to slightly stale Statistics Canada data.

    Accordingly, Calgary is a very competitive market in the ice cream business. The margins are high in the retail end of the business, but that business is very seasonal.

    The city also doesn't have the population to support a plethora of ice cream shops, so Choy's business is totally reliant upon retail sales from repeat customers -- which he has in spades.

    He's got customers who started out as kids and now bring their own children in for a treat, he said.

    There's no doubting the faithfulness of his clientele.

    "I'm across the street from a Baskin Robbins on 17th Ave. S.W, and they're for sale," Choy said. "What does that tell you?"

    Winter is brutal on the retail side, however. Fortunately, this is when wholesale sales to grocery stores such as the Lambda Oriental Food Market, T&T Supermarket, and Lucky Supermarket pick up.

    Wholesale sales to several restaurants, including the King & I in Calgary and Edmonton -- his biggest customers -- are year-round.

    Choy is the first to admit achieving his dream of taking his Asian dessert niche national will require a much larger facility than his current compact digs.

    But he's not stopping at ice cream. He's also thinking of getting into another Asian dessert item, mochi -- a wanton-like wrap made from sticky rice filled with a dollop of ice cream -- a wildly popular treat in Japan.

    Choy said it's cheaper to make the treat here "and we make a better product anyway," he said.

    With all these ideas on the go, Choy may one day realize his goals. Maybe then he'll get around to finding a suitable substitute for that wedding jewelry sold so long ago.

    "I haven't replaced it yet," he giggles, glancing merrily at Pansy. "Soon."

    [email protected]est.com

    Small Business

    Dairy Delite Corp.

    - Started business in 1983 with $6,000 investment

    - Bought 17th Ave S.W. location in 1998 for $65,000

    - Sold over 500,000 tubs of ice cream (11.4 litres each) in 2003

    - Estimated gross sales, wholesale and retail, for 2003: $500,000

    This story features a factbox "Small Business".

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    their ice cream r the best

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    Lychee flavour

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    love their ice creme! gotta love small business!! that is where you can see/taste the quality difference!!

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    Phils is too expensive, and they're know for being incrediby stingy with the cream. 'My favorite Ice Cream Shoppe' puts about twice the ice cream on for the same money...
    Bought not built!

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    Originally posted by kevie88
    Phils is too expensive, and they're know for being incrediby stingy with the cream. 'My favorite Ice Cream Shoppe' puts about twice the ice cream on for the same money...
    Which location, and owner? There were 2 other locations that were privately operated and their heart was not in it to operate a business as it turns out.

    Really? Then it woudn't be a popular store then for ice cream or be in the paper . The 17th ave store and the one in northmount are friendly.

    My Favorite does not manufacture ice cream or carry any specialty flavours.

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    it was the 17th ave location..

    I also think I was the victim of 'ethno-icecream discrimination' I was in line with my girlfriend behind an asian couple, and we ordered 2 singles as did the couple in front of us. The couple in front got a second scoop added to their cone, with my GF and I recieveing little less than a single scoop per cone.. very sad really!

    I asked the lady to put the same amount as the people before us, and she refused, saying they were exactly the same even tho you could clearly see the other couple had twice the ice cream .. Oh the humanity!!!

    I don't worry too much about having the specialty flavors, the only one I miss at MFICS is the Lychee!
    Bought not built!

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    hey whats with the philips ice cream they sell at lambda supermarket? its cheaper than the store, is it lower quality? or old ice cream? haha..cuz i buy that one...

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    I don't like the taste of Phillips.
    Still love Laura Secord's SUPERKID!

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    Philip's ice cream rules, congrats on the coverage! Best wishes to a prosperous future..can't wait for a Philips IC meet
    Looking for a new VW? How about a used vehicle? We are Central Albertas #1 source for pre-owned vehicles
    I will beat any deal on a new VW for beyonders

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    i would sooner just walk to my freezer and get have a meeting with Ben and Jerry... $6 for a litre of fun

    ... or Rolo ice cream

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    Originally posted by kevie88
    Phils is too expensive, and they're know for being incrediby stingy with the cream. 'My favorite Ice Cream Shoppe' puts about twice the ice cream on for the same money...
    I have to agree with you. I am chinese and i still got a small scoop, so i don't think they give more ice cream based on race! haha

    I just remember trying it a couple times, each time being extremely disappointed by the size of the ice cream. I mean, i pay good money, and i expect to have a decent sized cone! But it just doesnt work that way at philip's...i just remember leaving the store thinking about the chinese stereotype of how chinese ppl are "cheap"

    i must say tho, the ice cream is GOOD,

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    i've been to the store a few times and had no complaints, good serving of icecream and it was GOOD! Most of the time its from Lambda or T&T supermarket. Coconut, Lychee and MAngo are DAM good!

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    Originally posted by szw
    hey whats with the philips ice cream they sell at lambda supermarket? its cheaper than the store, is it lower quality? or old ice cream? haha..cuz i buy that one...
    i believe the ice-cream they sell at the shop is just alot fresher n maybe some preservatives arent put in the iceream?? i dunno im just guessing here

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    March 30, 2004 - Big Breakfast

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