The results are in: Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream is the winner of The News & Observer’s Triangle ice cream bracket.
The family-run local ice cream shop, with two stores in Cary, beat out runner-ups Maple View Ice Cream in Hillsborough and FRESH Local Ice Cream, with locations in Raleigh, Cary and Apex. It also knocked out familiar favorites like Two Roosters, Howling Cow Creamery and Goodberry’s earlier in the bracket.
“I am beyond honored,” said co-founder Andia Xouris. “That tells me that Raleigh really likes Andia’s, which is such an honor.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the Triangle’s favorite homegrown ice cream shop.
Rose pistachio and baklava ice creams
Known especially for its Instagrammable monster shakes (think: mason jars filled with creamy, blended scoops of ice cream and overflowing with toppings, sauces and sometimes, whole donuts or slices of cake), Andia’s is certainly on trend with its ice cream offerings. It serves up flights, ice cream brûlée and other decadent seasonal specialties just waiting to be devoured and photographed for social media.
Even still, Andia’s is grounded in a family history and guiding values of community and “parea,” Greek for good company and friendship.
Growing up in Cyprus, Greece, Andia Xouris was raised on rose ice cream and steeped in the idea of “parea.” It’s a tradition that drives the philosophy behind Andia’s today, and one that her husband and co-founder George Xouris grew up with, too, in his own traditional Greek family.
The timeline laid out on the walls of both stores begins back in 1920, the year George’s grandfather immigrated from Greece and thereafter began working at an ice cream parlor in Astoria, New York. The family heirloom ice cream scoop, passed on from George’s grandfather, hangs in a frame.
Sixty years later, Andia immigrated with her parents. Andia’s father built his own food distribution business from the ground up, and passed that entrepreneurial spirit onto his daughter.
The first flavor on the menu is baklava, a tribute to the family’s Greek heritage. Rose pistachio, Andia’s favorite flavor, pays homage to the ice cream of her childhood. The store recently featured an extra virgin olive oil flavor, next to menu staples like peanut butter fudge and cake batter.
And the shop’s goal of distinguishing itself, beyond its super premium homemade ice cream and through its guest experience, plays out of that tradition of family and friends gathered around food. The shop’s motto is “scooped with love.”
“That’s what we feel we are as people,” Andia said. “I want to always have that comfortable shop. I never want a cold environment. I want people to know that they are welcome here.”
Andia and George had long wanted to break into the ice cream business.
Prior to moving to North Carolina, which boasts better ice cream weather and a lower small business startup cost, the family lived in New Jersey, where they would regularly frequent a walk-up ice cream shop after sports games.
Andia sat with her family on the back of a truck parked by the shop, holding dripping ice cream cones, and she saw the power of ice cream to spark happiness and to bring people together.
After graduating from numerous courses on how to make frozen desserts, Andia and George landed on ice cream as the medium through which they could be the most creative.
“It’s not a trend that’s going to come and go. Everybody loves a nice scoop of ice cream,” Andia said. “You could create all kinds of amazing flavors when you’re doing this with ice cream. For me, it helps me speak what I’m feeling, what’s trending for me in my own life.”
Andia and George launched The Freezing Pointe, a wholesaler and ice cream caterer for hotels, restaurants and corporate and private events, in 2014.
But something didn’t feel quite right to the Xourises — the logo and name of their company didn’t seem to represent them or their family values. And besides, people kept asking where they could buy their ice cream for themselves.
So, Andia and George sat down with their two children — Alyssa, who is Andia’s director of retail operations, and Alex, who previously worked for the company and is now on his way to the Culinary Institute of America — and decided to rebrand and shift to a retail store. Thus, in 2016, Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream was born.
‘Everybody had our backs’
The first two years of opening meant 80-hour work weeks and dinner at 11:30 each night for Andia and George, who, before leaving his previous job, helped make and deliver ice cream on weekends.
Starting the work full-time together was a dream. “That was 25 years in the making of our marriage,” Andia said.
The shop’s first location on Green Level Church Road celebrated its five-year anniversary recently with a special cake batter flavor, free scoops and more. The second location on Ryan Road is coming up on two years this month.
Both locations have developed cult neighborhood followings, with visitors driving all the way from Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Wilmington, for a taste of Andia’s super premium ice cream.
When Andia’s opened its first retail location, the line was down the parking lot. Andia remembers sitting to the side and crying at the sight.
“I couldn’t believe that people wanted to come and try our ice cream. It was surreal,” she said.
When COVID-19 struck, Andia and George shut down the shop and overnight, the family pivoted to ice cream deliveries. Every Tuesday at 8 pm, they would restock their online store. By 8:30 pm, Andia said, they’d be sold out of thousands of quarts of ice cream, which the family then personally delivered door to door.
“Everybody had our backs,” Andia said. Families who ordered ice cream would put up signs and drawings on their front door thanking the Xourises for the ice cream.
“It was really our community that helped us thrive in COVID,” she added. “What a blessing to think that we were able to not only survive, but thrive and come back even stronger.”
The family hopes to open a third shop in Raleigh soon.
You can visit Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream at 10120 Green Level Church Rd, #208 or 1008 Ryan Rd, both in Cary.
This story was originally published August 5, 2022 3:26 PM.