If you’re of the mindset that vegan ice cream is a contradiction in terms, I suppose you’ve never seen a rainbow-maned unicorn eating ice cream either. You’ll meet both on Ives Street at Karen Krinsky’s Like No Udder. Karen settled down to her brick-and-mortar location just a year ago, slotting right into the burgeoning food scene in Fox Point. Karen’s store aims to be an ice cream store for everyone, bringing in omnivores and vegans alike, as well as a fun neighborhood ice cream shop for those who can only look longingly at lactose. We talked community building, Cherry Seinfeld and framed cat portraits.
How do you pick the flavors?
We do a couple – I wouldn’t say exotic flavors, but we have Thai Ice Tea and Almond Joyful, which is almond-flavored ice cream with toasted almonds and toasted coconut, but most of our flavors are closer to the mainstream rather than out-there, like Cookies and Cream or Mint Chip. You’ve got to have coffee in Rhode Island and always something with chocolate. Sometimes you go to a place that offers just one or two things and they give you strange flavors, like Rosewater Basil. Some people feel excluded by that. It doesn’t have to be exotic and vegan; it can be vegan and traditional.
Do you take requests?
I make things that I want to try, or that people have suggested. I did a Lemon Ginger that was very summery and light with a coconut base, and I color it with turmeric so it’s this bright yellow, and it’s just delicious. I made a Chocolate Orange and added marshmallows – it tastes just like one of those balls that you used to crack – and that has almost sold out in two days. Customers have been asking for cherry stuff, so we just added a new flavor called Cherry Seinfeld that’s a coconut base with cherry and chocolate bits.
Is selling vegan ice cream an uphill battle?
In this day and age, there’s no reason to be scared of trying vegan products. Times have definitely changed and our goal is to make delicious treats that just happen to be vegan. It’s only happened on a couple of occasions, but we’ve had adults come to the shop that have this fear in their eyes, and they don’t even want to try it. I don’t really get that. My hope is that people will give it a chance, because pretty much everyone who tries it loves it. I want people to see that [eating vegan food is] not sacrificing anything; it can be delicious.
Also, a lot of our clientele aren’t vegan. Some are lactose intolerant and they have either found out as adults that they can no longer experience their local ice cream shop, or they have kids that have never been to an ice cream shop because they worry about cross contamination. There’s no one type of person coming in; it’s fascinating.
What’s with the cats?
Our window tells you what we have: hot and cold drinks, dairy-free and gluten-free options and cat videos. When you come in, you find that it’s true: We play loops of cat videos, or live streams of cats in other countries or other parts of the country. Really, it just comes down to the fact that my husband and I love cats. We have pictures of our cats on our napkin dispensers, and we have an animatronic cat that the kids love.
Is the framed portrait one of your cats?
No, I got that for five dollars on a road trip in St. Louis, and I trucked that back. It’s a treasure. Really, though, my and my husband’s number-one priority is doing things to benefit animals and people who help animals.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
We plan on bringing back our series of charity nights, as well as some social nights where like-minded people (vegans, for example) can meet and we can start building the community more. We definitely see the business as a vessel for fostering that aspect of the community; we’ve always wanted to be part of its growth in Rhode Island.
170 Ives Street