EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- One recent afternoon Harry and Lisa Mandel packed their kids, Justin and Samantha, into the car and drove from Mount Vernon to Eastchester just to eat ice cream at Uncle Louie G's. They chatted for a moment with the tattooed, head shaved man in sleeveless shirt standing behind the counter, owner Ernie Aiello.
"They taste like soft serve," Justin said, halfway through a rainbow cookie cup.
Aiello opened the store on White Plains Road, almost in front of Eastchester Public Library, on May 28, following the success of another Louie G's he has in Yonkers, now a year old.
"I like the area," he said. "There was no place to get a good Italian ice cream up here."
Uncle Louie G is a franchised business. It started 15 years ago in Brooklyn and today has almost 60 stores in eight states.
Before becoming an ice cream seller, Aiello, 32, had had a café and a pizzeria in the Bronx, where he was born. He used to go to a friend's Uncle Louie G store in that neighborhood, and started thinking of opening his own.
"I liked the product," he said.
After he got married and moved to Yonkers, he and his wife Melissa decided to put the idea in practice.
Aiello said it costs from $35,000 to $40,000 to set up a store and that in this season he spent around $10,000 on marketing for the two stores, including ads and coupons in Clipper and Pennysaver magazines. The Mandels took full advantage of Aiello's promotions, paying three out of the four ice creams with Clipper coupons.
"I am not saying that I only came here because of the coupons, but it really helps," Harry Mandel said.
Aiello said he made a profit last year in Yonkers and now expects to do the same in Eastchester.
"By the end of this year I should get my money back and some," he said, knocking on the wooden counter.
Considering the ice cream-hungry folks that have been swarming his store in the evenings, he doesn't even need to be superstitious.
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