No matter how cold you keep it, ice cream can melt any dieter’s resolve. Laurence McMillon, owner of ice cream sandwich company Wynwood Parlor, is counting on just that—as both an entrepreneur and a host.
McMillon recently opened a new outpost of his ice cream lounge at Southgate Towers on West Avenue in Miami Beach. To celebrate, he and his fiancée, Alysse Richardson, invited friends for a Miami-style ice cream social in their Oasis Bar/Wynwood Parlor location, located on the tenth floor pool deck at the Bay Parc Apartments in Edgewater. “We created modern tropical glamour with ice cream,” says Richardson of the breezy and beautiful setting.
Cutting his teeth on the food industry as a child, McMillon says he grew up learning how to entertain. “I lived between Washington, D.C., where my grandfather had a restaurant, and Atlanta. I learned how to throw a party and often boiled crabs, manned the grill, and tended bar. I love to entertain.”
He’s put that family tradition to good use in a hospitality career of nearly 25 years—starting as a bartender at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena/Bank of America Club (now State Farm Arena and home of the Atlanta Hawks) and eventually becoming a regional manager with Sodexo/Centerplate, overseeing venues like the Hollywood Bowl, the Pasadena Convention Center, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and the Seattle Aquarium
In 2007, he opened his first bar concept called M Bar & Lounge (music, martinis, and margaritas) in Atlanta’s historic Castleberry Hill neighborhood, where he and Richardson met. After Richardson graduated from chiropractic school, the couple moved to Miami in 2011 for the culture and climate. They plan to marry next year.
Now settled in the Magic City, Richardson practices at the Comprehensive Health Center in North Miami. Formerly a general manager at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, McMillon now works as a client relations executive for a multi-national food and beverage company. But that’s not his only gig. Eager to spend more time with his two sons from a previous marriage—Caleb, 14, and Kelton, 24, McMillon started Wynwood Parlor as a side business in 2016.
“We painted an ice cream truck that we found on craigslist in Port St. Lucie,” says McMillon. “I had seen custom ice cream sandwiches in San Diego and Los Angeles. I liked the concept, so I taught Kelton the business. The challenge was to learn how to keep them from melting in Miami’s heat. But we did it.”
From their purple, graffiti-clad food truck, they sold their favorite handcrafted ice cream sandwiches made from small-batched cookies, ice creams, and toppings like almond chips, Fruity Pebbles cereal, and cookie crumbles along Wynwood’s artsy streets. McMillon says that a best seller is the Churro: a pair of sugar cookies and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, all rolled in Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churro cereal. Then there’s the popular PB&J, consisting of strawberry ice cream layered between two peanut butter cookies. There are even vegan-friendly options like the Secret Vegan, which is made from vegan chocolate chip cookies and vegan vanilla (coconut milk) ice cream covered in sliced almonds.
Innovative combos like these caught on quickly with consumers. Over the next few years, business boomed. Today, Wynwood Parlor is a full-scale catering, wholesale, and retail operation with nationwide delivery via Goldbelly. And McMillon says the expansion plans don’t stop there.
“I’m launching a pop-up at Southgate Towers in Miami Beach with plans to expand to North Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and other [South Florida] cities,” says McMillon.
It’s no wonder McMillon and Richardson are taking time to celebrate their sweet success. At their Oasis Bar party, even the beverages featured frozen delights. Guests sipped from a selection of Champagnes with sorbet—Miami Made Frosés (peach, pear, white grape, and lemon and lime juices blended with strawberry pureé and Band of Roses Rosé) and Peach Bellinis (peach nectar and peach purée with Moët Imperial Ice Champagne).
Because you can’t just gorge yourself on ice cream sandwiches and mini milkshakes from the get-go, guests were treated to appetizers beautifully displayed on Batillardo Boards that Osteria Morini Miami decked out with fruit, crudités, cheeses, and spreads.
But what’s an ice cream party without ice cream? At last the cool culinary centerpieces were served—including the Bedrock (red velvet cookies and vanilla ice cream rolled in Fruity Pebbles), the Classic (chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream rolled in mini chocolate chips), the Limoncello Cake (limoncello-soaked lemon cookies with vanilla ice cream), the Bourbon Spice Cake (bourbon-soaked spice cake cookies with vanilla ice cream), the Bourbon Chocolate Cinnamon (bourbon-soaked double chocolate cookies with cinnamon ice cream), and the Mister 305 (guava white chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream).
As guests indulged (and kept brain freeze at bay), they gathered around tables that popped with white and coral floral arrangements. “Our concept was to add artsy flair to the modern tropical glam vibe,” says Tarike Hyde, chief event stylist for Events by Boosh (a.k.a. “the Queen of Details”). “I was inspired by the artwork displayed in the ice cream parlor, and I wanted details to exude luxury.”
That artwork consists of a series of whimsical murals featuring characters eating ice cream sandwiches. Created by artist Nate Dee, their palette of bright colors matches the hues of the ice cream sandwiches. In a special nod, the mural behind the dining table was done by Nicole Salgar—the artist who painted that original purple food truck that started it all.
“All of my art is inspired by Wynwood and the graffiti artists who made the area what it is today,” says McMillon. “I love to support local artists, and I intend to keep the spirit of Wynwood in my new locations.”