When you look for good ice cream, seek out the family-owned, made-from-scratch kind. It’s got a distinct, creamy texture and that fresh-from-the-hands-that-made-it rich advantage that you just can’t get from store-bought ice cream.
Tyler’s brings the promise of the best quality ingredients made daily and family-friendly service to its three locations – the third of which just opened in mid-August at The Centre Shops on Longboat Key.
Tyler’s original location started in Cortez Village in 1984 and today remains a testament to its popularity and success. Started by Mr. Tyler, Rob and
Laura Alderson purchased this store in 2008 and the business has grown nicely.
“When we bought it, we wanted to stick to Mr. Tyler’s original recipes and he was very helpful with us,” Rob said. Rob’s favorite is the lemon ice cream, that tastes similar to sweet lemon cake. Mine, which I had for breakfast, was the sea salt caramel on a sugar cone.
“I make 50 buckets of ice cream a week at one store during season,” said Rob, who didn’t put his utensils down, pouring delicious fudge and cream into his bucket as we talked since he was getting ready for another busy, hot day in Cortez. And his ice cream always comes first.
It was one of those stories. The Aldersons were freezing in a Minnesota winter and had been dreaming about owning a business in the Sarasota area. Rob’s dad called when he saw the ad that Tyler’s was for sale. It was February. So they said, “What the hell? Let’s get out of this place for a week and take a look…what have we got to lose? It was exactly what we were looking for.”
The Longboat Key shop was an idea brought to them from Michael Gerry, owner of the Lazy Lobster on Longboat Key. When an adjacent storefront came open, he’d considered expanding his restaurant but when faced with the costs, decided not to. Then he saw Tyler’s delivering his ice cream one day and said,
“This would be a perfect spot for an ice cream shop.”
Rob and his dad decided to partner with Michael and Bob (the Executive Chef at Lazy Lobster) and the four guys are now brainstorming the latest and greatest ice cream shop offerings.
They’ve brought in a local Sarasota Belgium chocolate vendor. And Chef Bob is making “Dessert in a Jar” – mason jars filled with different crusts, fillings and toppings, like apple pie and cheesecake, for those who want a little something different.
“Another thing different about our stores is the service and we keep everything spotless,” Rob said as he was washing his dishes in hot, soapy water.
Tyler’s Gourmet Ice Cream won the Sun’s Reader’s Choice Award in 2014 and have plenty of positive reviews on Yelp! Another family-run success story, Rob and Laura have two daughters, 10 and 13, who sometimes get to help Dad make ice cream or run the register. Will they take over or go to college?
“It’d be nice for them to take over when I retire,” Rob said, “so I can golf more.”
Stop in for a sundae or cone – you have 30 choices of ice cream and sorbet flavors and tons of toppings. Take home a quart and impress your dinner guests with a local fave dessert. Or try a milkshake, malt or old-fashioned ice cream float. It’ll take you back to a time when things were simpler. There’s something soothing about eating ice cream I think. It’s like being a kid again. Who doesn’t like ice cream?! Stop into Tyler’s and I think you’ll agree – it’s good to the last lick.
The Cortez shop is at 11904 Cortez Road West. The Bradenton shop, 5917 Manatee Ave. West. The new one is at 5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Or visit www.tylersicecream.com.
photos by Patti Pearson