by Manuel McDonnell Smith
Banana Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, and Sweet Potato Pie. Home-style desserts we would have more often if it didn’t involve so much time in the kitchen. Now, a West Philly native is making these favorites available by the spoonful in your freezer.
Andre Andrews is the creator and owner of Dre’s Southern Style Ice Cream and Water Ice. He says the brand’s southern-style flavors are a “premium product that tastes better and costs less than the competitor.” Besides the flavors mentioned above, Dre’s pints also come in Butter Pralines, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Brownie Mint Chip.
Last year, his company closed a deal with Brown’s Family Shop Rite making the ice cream line available year-round in the chain’s locations at Park West Town Center, across Philadelphia, and in Camden, Delaware and even Baltimore. Although production is handled at a local plant, Andre makes time to visit each retail location on a regular basis to ensure proper merchandising and to introduce customers to the flavors. “I want people to know that this is a product that I would feed to my own family. It has no food coloring and no artificial flavoring”.
While the region is now getting their first chance at enjoying Dre’s flavors, they have been a staple of summer in West Philly since 2014 when Andre first started selling water ice from a pushcart. A missionary trip to Nicaragua inspired him to purchase a professional ice cream maker and grow the brand. Once the machine was delivered, he installed it in a garage and began creating and testing flavors. “I just started making my own product and giving away free samples until I found a perfect match of flavors”, he said.
Right now, Andre and his small staff of two are working to grow the brand and they have their eyes set on building a headquarters location in West Philadelphia in the future. For now, he’s hoping that in addition to delivering a premium product, he will be an inspiration to others to also follow their dreams. For those looking to do something different, the Overbrook High School graduate offers this recipe for success, “Just go out and do it. Be Fearless. Don’t be scared of failure. Just work hard and learn from your mistakes. Your success will be next to follow and when you finally achieve, be sure to make time to give back to someone who is less fortunate.”
Andre recently joined the PACTS (Partnership for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science) Alumni Board, at the Franklin Institute. He was a member of this group as a youth and now hopes to shape the future of other young people in the city.